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Canonical Could Switch To Rolling Releases For Ubuntu 14.04 and Beyond 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the move-'em-on,-head-'em-up dept.
massivepanic writes "For the longest time Canonical has slapped an LTS ("long term support") moniker on some of their Ubuntu releases. Currently, a new major release of the operating system happens every six months, and is supported for 18 months after release. Whereas in the past when LTS versions received two years support or more, the current model — starting with 12.04 — supports new LTS releases for five years. However, a recent public Google Hangouts session revealed that Canonical has been thinking about switching from the venerable LTS model to a rolling release, starting with version 14.04."
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Canonical Could Switch To Rolling Releases For Ubuntu 14.04 and Beyond

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  • Yay, I think? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by waddgodd (34934) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:04PM (#42663879) Homepage Journal

    I like the idea of rolling releases, but given the amount of massively stupid crap that Ubuntu springs on us by just rolling it into a new release (unity, I'm looking at you), I also like the idea of freezing a Ubuntu box at a non-ugly release and having a box that at least receives security updates for a few years

    • Re:Yay, I think? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:37PM (#42664177)

      Already have a distro that does that. I believe it is called "Debian".

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Already have a distro that does that. I believe it is called "Debian".

        Yeah, but does it come with Unity?

      • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @11:02PM (#42664875)

        "Already have a distro that does that. I believe it is called "Debian"."

        Odd name. Is it a fork of Ubuntu? (runs)

      • by oursland (1898514)
        Lies!

        I'm rockin' Debian "unstable" and it is frozen, and has been for some time. No new packages or updates will be accepted until the next Debian release is made, unless they are of a bugfix nature. Gnome 3 is stuck at Gnome 3.2, but Ubuntu 12.10 is rollin' Gnome 3.6, and it behaves much, much better.

        In short, Debian is not a "rollling release" right now, nor is it current, even in the "unstable" branch. God have mercy on those fools who try to work with "stable" or "testing."
        • 12.04 has gnome 3.4.

          LTS is the only thing that makes gnome-shell worth it, as they break extensions ever point release. all my extensions that weren't broken by 3.4 where broken by 3.6

          it makes the amount of work needed to maintain quality extensions prohibative for developers who have a life doing something other than re-writing their extensions every six months.
    • Re:Yay, I think? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:29PM (#42664653) Homepage

      I've tried using LTS on some machines, but it hasn't worked out well. The trouble with it is that Ubuntu's quality is crap, and that applies to LTS releases just as much as non-LTS. For instance, they started gratuitously breaking sound with Jaunty, and as of Precise it's still broken on some machines I use. When important stuff is randomly broken in an LTS release, you end up upgrading to a non-LTS to see if they've fixed the bug.

      The root problem is that Ubuntu is more interested in random, useless crap like Unity and ALSA than they are in just fixing bugs and making something that works. Rolling releases won't make that any better or worse. You'll get the bug fixes sooner, but you'll also get new bugs sooner.

      • by Junta (36770)
        This is unfortunately the natural consequence of arbitrarily declaring certain releases 'LTS' without a distinc development cycle.

        By the time Debian or Red Hat release something as stable, enthusiasts are generally underwhelmed because the content is ancient from the second it is 'released'. An Ubuntu LTS release enjoys a brief period of appearing fresher, but that comes at a price, quality wise.

        Canonical is in an unfortunate position where, as a business, they can't figure out a way 'in'. They are a very
        • by kriston (7886)

          Having used the Ubuntu LTS releases, I cannot disagree with this sentiment. On most systems I have returned to Red Hat Enterprise, or, more specifically, the CentOS derivatives, for quality releases. In my experience, the Ubuntu LTS releases aren't tested to the high standard that the Red Hat Enterprise releases are, but I expected that, to be honest, and wasn't surprised at all.

      • I've tried using LTS on some machines, but it hasn't worked out well. The trouble with it is that Ubuntu's quality is crap, and that applies to LTS releases just as much as non-LTS. For instance, they started gratuitously breaking sound with Jaunty, and as of Precise it's still broken on some machines I use. When important stuff is randomly broken in an LTS release, you end up upgrading to a non-LTS to see if they've fixed the bug.

        For almost 2 years I'll been volunteering for a branch of Freegeek [freegeek.org] and in that tyme I've installed Ubuntu 10.04 on hundreds of PCs and most of the installs have been fine. So I don't know where you get LTS hasn't worked out well or that Ubuntu's quality is crap. You may not like the DE, Canonical, or how Ubuntu is run but that's different than saying the distro is crap.

        Falcon

      • The root problem is that Ubuntu is more interested in random, useless crap like Unity and ALSA than they are in just fixing bugs and making something that works.

        Maybe we are talking about a different ALSA but ALSA has been the only reliable sound system on Linux for me for close to a decade. All of that other crap that comes and goes is useless, not ALSA. ALSA is good, useful, and reliable. A HUGE thank you to the developers... which reminds me, why is there anything other than ALSA even out there? What does crap like PulseAudio solve that ALSA did not solve a decade ago?

        • Pulseaudio solves the problem that only one process can use the sound card at once, by being that process and pretending to be the sound card for everything else ; even programs compiled against ALSA. This means you can hear your email ping, even when you listen to music.

          It's a similar design to the sound system you get on Windows ; each application gets it's own volume, etc. The main problem I've had with it is that it's not 100% robust (it would go into a loop sometimes when receiving bad sound input), wh

          • by tepples (727027)

            Pulseaudio solves the problem that only one process can use the sound card at once, by being that process and pretending to be the sound card for everything else

            But in several cases, such as every program using the Allegro library in 2009 or so when Ubuntu first adopted PulseAudio, PulseAudio has returned "Error: format not supported" when the real sound card would have returned "Format accepted; play on!".

    • Linux Mint Debian basically does that. They release the "update pack", and the user has to intentionally install it. Currently, LMDE is at UP6. The wife decided to update, she just went ahead and ran the updater without reading any of the release notes. Luckily, she got through the process without any problems. I did warn her to READ the release notes, AND to WAIT until a few days after release. At which time, it would be wise to browse the forums, looking for problems that people found during the upd

    • by jrumney (197329)

      I like the idea of rolling releases, but given the amount of massively stupid crap that Ubuntu springs on us by just rolling it into a new release (unity, I'm looking at you), I also like the idea of freezing a Ubuntu box at a non-ugly release and having a box that at least receives security updates for a few years

      I've been through both types - from Debian stable (freezing), to Debian unstable (rolling release), to Ubuntu (6 monthly releases), and the rolling release worked out best. Minor issues caused by

  • by UltraZelda64 (2309504) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:04PM (#42663885)

    That is, if Canonical didn't already shoot themselves and their distro in the foot in every way possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Although, there was this in the article:

    Assuming switching to a rolling release between LTS versions doesn’t disrupt Ubuntu’s growth in any way, the casual Ubuntu user doesn’t really have to pay too much attention to the switch should it happen, though they might get a little annoyed at the probably-higher frequency of software updates. To satiate the more in-depth user, Canonical could theoretically put out a test version in between the LTS releases, which would also help cut down on bugs in the LTS.

    Which leads me to believe that this is targeted at the desktop builds, but the article was a bit skim on details.

    If they dropped LTS for their server builds, I guarantee Ubuntu's popularity would drop faster than a whale out of the sky.

    • "If they dropped LTS for their server builds, I guarantee Ubuntu's popularity would drop faster than a whale out of the sky."

      LTS is needed for (corporate) desktops too.

      There's no way for a business to support a rolling release, not even a software development focused company. This means that Canonical either feels it already has a strong enough grip on corporations, so they can play the Red Hat/Fedora game or that they are simply crazy (just crazy, thinking they can retain a corporate grip out of their cur

      • by natoochtoniket (763630) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @10:19PM (#42664565)

        I have a half dozen programmers and four (4) IT people, to support a site of several thousand hosts. Most of those hosts are in clusters, of course...

        We have to verify and validate the software, put it on thousands of hosts, and then run it until the next upgrade. The name of the game is "stable". We don't want to upgrade the OS any more often than is absolutely required by the application.

        Rolling releases are a complete non-starter for us. Sure, they are easier to support from the OS vendors perspective. But, they are absolutely unacceptable for customer whose primary business requirements for the platform are "stable" and "predictable".

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:09PM (#42663931)
    But how will the alliterative critters be named then?
    • by hazah (807503)
      Pick a name and run with it. Honestly... really stupid question when the answer is "any fucking thing you like". May I refer you to the concept of "Liberty"?
  • Be careful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach (534280) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:34PM (#42664147)

    If they're going to dump LTS, they need to be REAL careful about what shit they push out. I used Linux for many many years, but finally I just got tired of stuff breaking all the time, and switched to Mac OS, where Apple seems to be reasonably careful not to annoy me too much with their updates. Maybe Linux got better since then, but I doubt it judging by some of the discussions I read about on Slashdot, like massive controversies still going on about KDE vs Gnome, as well as major about faces going on WITHIN KDE and Gnome, AND talk of distros even going away from KDE and Gnone entirely. I don't mind things changing, even largish changes, but you ought to be REAL careful to make it smooth, and I don't see it happening.

    • Re:Be careful (Score:5, Informative)

      by gQuigs (913879) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:42PM (#42664221) Homepage

      No one is talking about removing the LTSs. The rolling release would replace the non-LTS releases. So the releases would be:
      14.04
      Rolling Release up until
      16.04
      Rolling Release up until
      18.04
      etc

      If anything it migth strengthen the LTS.

      • by snadrus (930168)
        If I have a huge change, like Wayland replacing X11 for the default apps. Where would that go?
        Previously, it would go best into LTS+1 or LTS+2 (if LTS was a "long" freeze). The current release cycle allows the best flexibility for change.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You should have stuck with real Debian, or moved to FreeBSD.

      • The problem with that is debian has been making it harder to get non free software in a misguided attempt to appease stalman and the fsf to be a Gnu approved distro, and Bsd has far less software and hardware support

        • by hazah (807503)
          This is not a "misguided attempt at appeasing stalman", it's the realization that there is a limit to how much you can fuck with another human being's ability to not become a criminal for no other reason than a stupid technicality, and it's the refusal to do so when given the opportunity. Imagine... there are people out there that are NOT out to fuck you over... what a concept.
          • The problem is though to get the FSF stamp of approval you can't have even a opt-in non-free repo which debian has had but is getting closer to abandoning in a quest for the GNU stamp. How is my freedom protected by the removal of my ability to install software? How is removing the non free as in speech wifi/graphics driver repos supposed to help me when it means my laptop can't connect to the internet or display properly? By default the debian install is already free software but, GNU wants to remove my ab

            • How is removing the non free as in speech wifi/graphics driver repos supposed to help me when it means my laptop can't connect to the internet or display properly?

              I guess FSF's rationale is that it encourages you, going forward, to patronize laptop manufacturers that respect your freedom.

  • by kriston (7886) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @11:09PM (#42664917) Homepage Journal

    I'm a big fan of long-term releases, only because I may be one of those individuals who might be responsible for systems that do not have access to the internet in order to support the "rolling release" model.

    It's nice to be able to have a stable, known-good server installation on several isolated networks that just need an occasional update of dpkgs and completely expect it to work fine after it's been restarted. I don't think the same is expected in a rolling release model.

    The idea that a rolling release maintains binary compatibility is, so far, been proven false. In our world, long-term releases make sense.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I'm a big fan of long-term releases, only because I may be one of those individuals who might be responsible for systems that do not have access to the internet in order to support the "rolling release" model.

      I'm also a fan of those long term releases, for other reasons. That 20 Mbit fibre link is reliably enough, still on 10.04LTS here.

      Reason: it works. It receives important updates (Firefox is at latest release), security updates, etc. All the while keeping my interface the same, the basic set of applications the same, and most importantly: it works.

      Rolling releases mean any time, any day you may receive a very different UI. You may have applications replaced. Functionality seriously changed. All those big cha

    • I'm a big fan of long-term releases, only because I may be one of those individuals who might be responsible for systems that do not have access to the internet in order to support the "rolling release" model.

      It's nice to be able to have a stable, known-good server installation on several isolated networks that just need an occasional update of dpkgs and completely expect it to work fine after it's been restarted. I don't think the same is expected in a rolling release model.

      The idea that a rolling release maintains binary compatibility is, so far, been proven false. In our world, long-term releases make sense.

      Well you wouldn't have to give up LTS then, TFA says they will still be available.

      Falcon

  • Steam success (Score:4, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:06AM (#42665815)

    Purely speculation here but part Steam seems to be promoting Ubuntu for their Linux-based Steam client. Games often require patching to get acceptable or optimal performance. This announcement for Rolling Releases might be directed at keeping Valve / Steam happy.

    Anything that improves Linux distros is good news. However, if Steam suddenly gets 100 million Linux gamers, the sudden popularity of Ubuntu (assuming at some point Steam might only work with Ubuntu) might not work in favor of other distros. I'm concerned that it might push too much development resources to get X & Y working which is popular for the gaming community but not for all other Linux / ''Nix users (personal, business, enterprise...).

    • by dkf (304284)

      I'm concerned that it might push too much development resources to get X & Y working which is popular for the gaming community but not for all other Linux / ''Nix users (personal, business, enterprise...).

      I'm sure that there will continue to be many developers who won't work on the gaming side of things. On the other hand, if supporting gaming means that we finally get all the niggling media support problems sorted out, that's a good thing. The APIs don't have to be the best for very advanced use, but they must at least work reliably for simpler uses across very wide sets of configurations. (It's a matter of going from 95% done to 100% done; right now things work for almost everyone, but it's a lot of work t

  • I think the most sane approach would be too keep doing releases for the "core system", i.e. kernel and libraries. Applications are the "leaves" in the package dependencies graph and could be made rolling without compromising stability.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @07:40AM (#42667691) Homepage

    The idea of rolling releases is by itself a good one, as there is really no point in trying to get thousands of packages, that are in large part completely independed of each other, "stable" at the same time ("stable" mostly meaning we won't ship the fixes upstream provides). However far to often new packages also break stuff, be it just little things or Unity and Gnome3 comming along and wreaking your whole desktop environment. So could we please get proper support for downgrades or the installation of multiple versions per package first? If stuff breaks and I could just go back to the older version in a single click I wouldn't mind if stuff breaks. But right now I have to search for the .deb via arcane means, twiddle with raw dpkg and in the end might completely wreak the dependency tree as a result (try install old Gnome2 on modern Ubuntu, not easy). As long as upgrades are a one way street, rolling releases really sound like a bad idea if you want a stable system.

  • Specifically: Linux Mint Debian Edition. It reminds me of what Ubuntu was before Cannonical lost their minds and decided to become Cupertino 2.0 (or is that Too?).
  • I've used Arch for years, which uses rolling release as well.
    I've noticed that rolling release doesn't tend to carry the breakage that dist-upgrade carries, because changes are gradual to the system, one at a time, and don't need to be tested in some arbitrarily defined time, which means they usually get tested more thoroughly too.

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