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Ubuntu May Move To Rolling Releases 246

formfeed writes "The register claims that 'Ubuntu is moving away from its established six-month-cycle and potentially to a future where software updates land on a daily basis.' While this sounds like a sudden change, it is apparently more of a long-term thought. The Register quotes Shuttleworth: '"Today we have a six-month release cycle," Shuttleworth said. "In an internet-oriented world, we need to be able to release something every day. That's an area we will put a lot of work into in the next five years. The small steps we are putting in to the Software Center today, they will go further and faster than people might have envisioned in the past."' But given that many of Shuttleworth's thoughts became decisions later on, it might be interesting to see, where this one leads. Interestingly enough, five years is about the time when Ubuntu will run out of letters."
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Ubuntu May Move To Rolling Releases

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  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:04AM (#34330466) Homepage

    Lately, there has been a gradual shift in Linux hardware support where distros are limiting support for older hardware. I understand why they are doing it, but by doing what Ubuntu is [thinking about] doing, it could literally result in a situation where one day your computer is supported and the next day, it's not. That's not a good thing.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:08AM (#34330492)

    You go from one release cycle style to another. Periodic releases to constant releases. And then back.

    Each style has its advantages, but in the end you just end up changing for change's sake and no real benefit is gleaned one way or the other. It's a lot like reorganizing resources in a company. You move some people here, you transfer some people there, you change from a horizontal hierarchy to a more vertical one. Then in 18 months you change it back.

    In the end, the guys on the ground doing all the nitty gritty work do the same job they've always done and the company keeps chugging along.

    That being said, it's usually a case of management losing touch with the guys on the ground that causes this kind of shakeup. I wouldn't be surprised if Shuttleworth is a bit disappointed in how the business is going and is looking to change the sales story for Ubuntu. From the "stable and great" OS it is now to "cutting edge and always up to date" OS it could be with constant drops.

  • While i understand that you want the foundation to be fairly stable that in itself creates a slew of problems. Foremost that stuff like Firefox, OpenOffice and other userend apps wont get upgraded to newer versions until the next rollover.

    My personal dream would be a distribution where the user end is getting upgraded often and fast while stuff under the hood gets overhauled less often.

    A suggestion would be major overhauls once every two years of the backend stuff while user applications is kept on newest stable versions. That way developers of backend stuff gets ample time to iron bugs out while users wont have to upgrade the whole desktop just to get a new version of an app.

  • Re:Stability? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:11AM (#34330544)
    Yeah, daily releases sound great for the press but it does beg the question how they're going to deal with a new major release of glibc or something.
  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#34330672) Homepage Journal

    That thought had crossed my mind.

    Well, they broke it while stable, but at least they're stable enough not to fix it.

    I wouldn't think a Centrino laptop would be all that hard to keep working.

    (Toshiba Tecra A5 - Kubuntu works fine, but I do prefer Debian)

  • Moving Target (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gillkm ( 410018 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:41AM (#34330942)

    Linux is already much of a moving target when it comes to application development and getting some kind of a consistent environment, now it will be increasing harder (at least on Ubuntu). I can envision vendors spending more time updating their build environments than actually implementing their products.

  • LTS releases ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ProgramErgoSum ( 1342017 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:48AM (#34331064)
    So, which one - if any - would be a LTS release ? I am really bothered about it. I am so far away from bleeding edge, that I want to change from one LTS release to another alone; let alone six-monthly ! And how about software developed for a particular release ? "Tested on Ubuntu release Nov 24 2010, 11 PM GMT+5" ?
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:51AM (#34331134)

    What is this fascination with change for change sake? What could possibly be so important that it has to come out each and every day?

    The problem is that if you wait six months between upgrades then that means you spend 12 hours downloading and installing hundreds of megabytes of changes and then it crashes part-way through and your system is hosed. I've reached the point where I'm reluctant to upgrade any of my Ubuntu machines to a new release because of all the problems I've had in the past.

    If they can release the updates in smaller batches which make less changes then that would reduce the odds of a system not working and taking six hours to fix. But, as people have said, that introduces its own problems if you change sometihng like glibc or the kernel version and suddenly have to recompile half the packages to be compatible.

  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:24AM (#34331758)

    Similar. I'd run Debian testing for years as the "best compromise" but the latest testing has given me so many problems it's more like an old unstable. Moved to 10.04. Finally, an Ubuntu where everything just worked. You can imagine that I don't welcome this news.

  • by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:53AM (#34332312) Journal

    Yeah, but the cases in which your hardware would no longer be supported, it's going to be on fairly old equipment (5-10years)...

    Five years is *way* too soon. Who does Canonical think they are, Apple?

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:37PM (#34333070) Homepage Journal
    Dear Mark,

    Recently I tried to upgrade my Ubuntu system from 8.04 to 10.04 (LTS to LTS) by using the bundled distribution upgrade manager. The first upgrade, to 8.10, rendered my graphics card and video card useless. Since the 8.10 version was no longer supported, I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get good drivers installed so the system was usable again. 8.10 to 9.04 went smoothly. When I upgraded from 9.04 to 9.10, upon system reboot, I was greeted with a message that one of my I/O modules had a memory conflict error at addresses 0x400 - 0x407 with some other module.After excessive googling and internet scouring, I found that this error had happened to a few other folks, who wiped their entire system and just used a live CD with the version they wanted to get their computer running. I also found three bug reports that had been filed as something along the lines of, "Put on the backburner because this affects an old distribution."

    If updating my OS every 6 months requires a weekend long endeavor full of stress, strain, tears, and agonizingly obscure frustration, what in the hell makes you think asking me to upgrade my distro daily is a good idea? I don't have that kind of spare time. My computer is a tool, not a fucking hobby.

    If Canonical moves forward with this idea, and implements in in such a way as to shave even more years off of my life through high blood pressure, then I will be forced to return to some other computing environment permanently. I don't have time to deal with that kind of crap daily.

    Me and probably a few thousand other Ubuntu users.
  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:01PM (#34333520)

    Here's a better idea - go for more stability, not less. If Linux is maturing as a desktop OS then there shouldn't be a need for 6 monthly, let alone daily, updates.

    Here's a better idea:

    1. Drop the 6 month release cycle and make LTS the default option. Then people can install an OS with a sensible lifetime.

    2. Don't push any updates unless they are critical security vulnerabilities.

    3. Offer optional upgrades to the major application packages, drivers etc. as they become available and where possible, and keep interdependencies to a minimum - i.e. compile them against the original distro + any vital security patches, not the latest everything (statically link them if you have to - RAM is cheap now).

    The problem with the current system comes for the less technical users who want to (or are sensibly advised to) stick with the packages in the official repositories. Currently, you may find that the only "official" way to get the latest office software is to upgrade your whole fricking operating system. Its like having to take the back axle off your car in order to replace the radio.

    Remember this is Linux - if we /.ers want to compile our own kernel, install the latest Firefox beta from a source tarball, reformat the drive as ext6 or scour the interwebs for a suitable .deb of the very latest LibreOffice then there's nothing stopping us. Or, we can switch to a more bleeding edge distro. However, that might work for us, but it won't work for others - and even I don't want to install a new kernel just to run the latest word processor unless it really, really needs it.

    The problem is particularly bad with Ubuntu: it can't be "the Linux for the rest of us" and bleeding edge, because "the rest of us" don't want to be obliged to upgrade our whole OS every 6 months just to get the latest OpenOffice.

    ...its understandable with commercial software where the company depends on brining in the upgrade fees, but why should Free Software care?

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:16PM (#34333750) Homepage

    Debian Sid user here, I agree. Rolling ftw.

  • No Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imunfair ( 877689 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:18PM (#34333792) Homepage

    First thing I'd do is look for the off button when installing a release with this feature. Twice I've had an in place upgrade hose my Ubuntu system - and usually it results in quirky bugs if it doesn't entirely blow up. That's enough of that nonsense - every couple years I do a full fresh install and copy over all the important files from my old install.

    It seems like Ubuntu is going the way of Firefox, Pidgin, and other open source software - making unilateral changes the users haven't necessarily requested or possibly downright don't want. Pidgin auto-resizing text boxes and Firefox magic navigation bar are easily on par with moving my window managers close/min/max button positions.

    Lesson for open source: people are often happy with how something already is - put an option in settings to reset it to the old default when you make major cosmetic changes to your software. I wouldn't be using XYZ software if it wasn't already working for me. Thanks

  • by mounthood ( 993037 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @02:38PM (#34334978)

    Use Red Hat/CentOS if that's what you want. (If Canonical is seriously thinking about this, that's probably why.) Most people want updates to the Kernel/Gnome/base libraries/etc... and they want to choose when to upgrade so they can do it when they have time to address issues. Regularly testing rolling packages together seems like a way to let people just apply security updates until they're ready to "upgrade" to the latest rolling package set.

  • Re:No Thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:55PM (#34335916) Homepage

    You might be surprised by how many people are leaving Ubuntu over its terrible release cycles. "Want a new version of Pidgin? You can wait 6 months." "Oh, the 6 month release broke your [sound/video/anything], we'll fix it in 6 months."

    Arch has used a rolling release forever and while things occasionally break (less often that Ubuntu ironically), the fix usually consists of waiting a couple days for them to push a fixed version.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.