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Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu's Engineering Director Debunks Rolling Release Rumours 80

Responding to yesterday's post indicating that Ubuntu might move to a rolling release schedule, reader ddfall writes "This is wrong! Engineering Director of Ubuntu Rick Spencer says 'Ubuntu is not changing to a rolling release.' He goes on to say, 'We are confident that our customers, partners, and the FLOSS ecosystem are well served by our current release cadence. What the article was probably referring to was the possibility of making it easier for developers to use cutting edge versions of certain software packages on Ubuntu. This is a wide-ranging project that we will continue to pursue through our normal planning processes.'"
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Ubuntu's Engineering Director Debunks Rolling Release Rumours

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  • That's a relief (Score:5, Informative)

    by onionman ( 975962 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#34342664)

    I personally like the idea of scheduled releases which have been somewhat reasonably tested. Giving developers a mechanism to deal with the cutting edge versions of each package is nice, but I'd rather not have those in the releases on my servers.

    • Re:That's a relief (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:20AM (#34342726)

      I personally like the idea of scheduled releases which have been somewhat reasonably tested. Giving developers a mechanism to deal with the cutting edge versions of each package is nice, but I'd rather not have those in the releases on my servers.

      I agree. Rolling releases works for beta but the idea that substantial changes could be rolled out in a daily update (as opposed to security updates) would kill any corporate use. They don't want changes that could involve the users seeing something different appearing without testing, training, etc. Many people like the LTS releases [] for this reason.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by lennier1 ( 264730 )

        Many people like the LTS releases for this reason.

        Unlike the half-baked release of 10.10, where it was obvious that there was still a lot of critical stuff unfinished?

        • Re:That's a relief (Score:5, Informative)

          by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:39AM (#34342864)

          Many people like the LTS releases for this reason.

          Unlike the half-baked release of 10.10, where it was obvious that there was still a lot of critical stuff unfinished?

          I don't know what "critical stuff" you mean. I downloaded it on release day and it worked. There were a lot of big updates in the following week, so maybe it was stuff that broke other configurations.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Just for me, the biggie was the new Xorg 1.9 which broke almost every nvidia-produced driver out there. Mine (nvidia 96) was the last to get fixed. I had to put off upgrading for about a month until it was fixed.

            I realize bitching about waiting a month extra for a new release makes me sound like a douchebag, but when it's something as high profile as display drivers I must take offense.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Knuckles ( 8964 )

              Sounds like something to complain to Nvidia for.

              • Not really, I lay it at the feet of Ubuntu for that. They knew early on that a major showstopper bug existed with Nvidia & Xorg 1.9 and they should have made the decision not to upgrade until the fix was done and tested.
            • by Zebedeu ( 739988 )

              I don't think yours was the last to get fixed...

              Me and most people with a recent Vaio laptop are still waiting on nvidia. Apparently they have the problem fixed in testing, but we're still waiting for a release.

              Meanwhile I'm happy I can still use 10.04. I don't know if this would be possible in a rolling release scenario.

              • Did you look for a PPA for it? That's where I found mine.

                I wanted to upgrade for a bunch of LXDE packages myself. I see a lot of improvement from them so I like to keep on top on it.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by asvravi ( 1236558 )

            How about the broken lirc/IR ecosystem? Stock hauppauge IR controls stopped working because the 10.10 userland did not jive well with a premature backport to the kernel version used.

          • Suspend and hibernation for the ThinkPad seems to have died between 10.04 and 10.10. This is something that had worked great for years!
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I wanted to install Kubuntu using USB. Guess what, installer segfaults after creating new partition. I had to waste 2 days getting anything installed on my laptop.

            And this problem was known at launchpad. []

      • I don't think that rolling releases work well for an OS which is comprised of a Kernel and 3rd party contributed apps. Especially since Ubuntu doesn't have much control over the Kernel. To try and enforce a release schedules on 3rd party developers would be foolhardy at best.

        However, for OSes like FreeBSD where the entirety of the userland is maintained and controlled by the project they probably could get away with it. And in a sense they do with -STABLE.

        In general though, it's not particularly easy
    • I disagree. I run Sabayon linux and I find the rolling release system actually works very well.
      • Similarly, I run Arch Linux [], and have found its rolling release to be at least as bombproof as Ubuntu's cadenced release. The difference is simply that your upgrade cycle happens at a time when you and the individual program developers are ready for it, and you can be as selective as you like.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Fri13 ( 963421 )


          + It is very easy to roll back to state before upgrade if the upgrade did not work. And especially if user use btrfs the snapshotting comes very very handy. Just take a snapshopt, upgrade and if there comes problems, rever to snapshot.

          I have found that rolling release distributions (like Arch Linux) being more stable and more pleasant to use than 6 months release scheduled distributions and definitely nicer than Debian's Stable and Canonicals LTS based to Debian testing branch. On servers the situation is

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kthreadd ( 1558445 )

            Rolling releases probably work just fine when you're only running it on your personal laptop or desktop. It's a very different matter when you have a site installation on a large number of machines where installations and upgrades are a bit more complex than to insert the CD and click next a few times. It is in those environments you appreciate that you can come in one day and things still work consistently with what they did yesterday.

    • I'm not trying to troll, but before someone less noble says it: why are you running Ubuntu on a server in the first place ? I'd like to know why you would choose Ubuntu over something like CentOS.

      I'll be perfectly transparent here, I'm just as bad: I run Gentoo on my servers. So don't be shy to profess your love for the easy-to-use distro, I'm not here to judge :) I use Gentoo because I have zero patience for binary package "management" and the dependency hell / obsolete libraries that come along with it

      • My experience with CentOS is that it's very stable. Which for me is a euphemism for "antiquated".

        For example ; my organization has a contract with CollabNet for server hosting on their TeamForge platform. In addition to the usual forge servers, there are hosted servers (both virtual and "real" with lights-out management) in the back for running build services, etc. The provided OS build on most of these servers is CentOS 5.0

        Now CollabNet are very big on Subversion, and selling services related to Subversion

        • I work for CollabNet's engineering team for TeamForge -- CollabNet does provide a yum server for updates and current versions of subversion for TeamForge users. While CentOS (What our VMWare image uses) is at 5.x, we stay with that version so that companies get the benefits of having a stable release (as far as underlying software versions go) with security updates (through the upstream).

          Feel free to email me and if you have any questions, or any additional feedback about our installer or the product in ge

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        why are you running Ubuntu on a server in the first place ?

        I'll bite. In my instance, why I have chosen at times Ubuntu over CentOS:

        1) specific daemons, libraries (if I'm using certain commercial software that relies up on it) are provided in the distribution's repositories, removing the need for me to package my own versions of the software where CentOS did not offer. This removes the issue of me having to monitor for security vulnerabilities, needing to back port code should the new library be incompatibl

    • Rolling release is the reason I love Arch, and half the reason I'm planning to put it on a server I'll be building soon. Between Arch, Mandriva, Ubuntu, Slackware, and Fedora, Arch is the most stable distro I've ever used. It's not like the packages they distribute are alpha quality or anything - they're stable versions, they're just the _newest_ stable version. Meaning they've hopefully fixed the major bugs from previous releases. Plus, Arch is rather minimal...which I think any rolling release distro woul

  • by geschild ( 43455 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:13AM (#34342672) Homepage

    Last year in his speech at the Open World Forum in Paris, Mark was trying to convince people that more open source projects should get in lockstep with the Ubuntu six-month release cycle. I would be surprised if he had changed his mind so soon.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:30AM (#34342784)

      He wasn't saying the world should revolve around Ubuntu, but rather that everyone should work together. A little different, don't you think? If everyone agreed to work in cadence to a different cycle than ubuntu's, I think he would have still called it a success.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Fri13 ( 963421 )

        Mark has never listened the open source community saying that the community is already working together. Mark believes that the magical fix would tie everyone to same schedule. As everyone would work at same corporation and at same building and at same room with same working times and everyone would get paid from 8-16 hours working.

        Open source has worked wonderfully now since the first mainframes were started at 50-60's in universities. And Linux community (big role in the OSS community) has proofed that cu

  • Yesterday's article was based around the following:

    "Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said during an Ubuntu 10.10 conference call last month that a move to daily updates would help the popular Linux distro keep pace with an increasingly complex software and platform ecosystem ...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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Or the Engineering Director didn't get the memo...
    • Re:Faked Story? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shish ( 588640 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:57AM (#34342998) Homepage

      So is this just another completley fabricated story to get page hits?

      From what I can see, Mark is basically saying "backports might be something worth looking into"; then the media, being the media, blow it out of all proportion into "Mark Shuttleworth declares that every Ubuntu package will be bleeding edge tomorrow".

      I wonder what it's like for the poor guy, any time he mentions anything, in any context, people take it to the extreme then claim that that is what Ubuntu will do next...

    • When Shuttleworth talks about the Ubuntu Software Center, it makes me thing he's talking about daily updates to user software. So software like OpenOffice, Firefox/Chromium, Pidgin/Empathy, GIMP, etc would get version updates between releases. I don't see this as being a bad thing. I'm sure they can make this work without creating problems. They already have a mechanism for this, it's the -updates repository, they just need to iterate at a faster pace.

      I assume they're not stupid enough to actually attem

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:18AM (#34342714) Homepage
    Please take it as a sign that you need to spend more time with your compiler and less with the Director of Buzzword Bingo.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      The whole OSS -> FOSS -> FLOSS thing has always bugged me.

      It's not enough to say it's open source.. we have to emphasize that it's FREE open source.. and now even that's not enough.. we have to describe the specific _kind_ of free that it is.

      And yeah, using the word ecosystem in a non-biology context is _so_ management.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by blai ( 1380673 )
      FLOSS ecosystem is nowhere near EcoFLOSS Cloud 2.0.
    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

      Is the FLOSS ecosystem in danger of overpopulation or global climate change problems?

    • FLOSS sounds like dental hygiene, especially in the same sentence as "ecosystem". With all due respect (to both.)
  • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:27AM (#34342766) Homepage Journal
    Man, there goes a good Astley moment.
    • Hmmmm, Ubuntu Live CDs would be great for every holiday stocking... just figure out how to burn them to boot up and auto-play Rick Astley. Would be a nice addition to the maintenance scripts too...

  • Like Arch Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:43AM (#34342900) Homepage

    My distribution of choice, Arch Linux, uses a rolling release schedule, which has its good and bad points. I suppose the worst part of it is that with Arch Linux, old versions of software are not retained in the repositories and the package management tools don't make it easy to go back to a prior version of the software in the event of a problem. As a result, upgrading is a bit of a 'cross your fingers' endeavor and more often than not, I've regretted a full system upgrade.

    I think that rolling release can work well but only if the package management system is designed to, and the repositories are set up to, allow easy rolling forward and backward on software versions as necessary. It's my number one wish for Arch Linux, which otherwise is the best distribution I've used.

    • by bema ( 1946062 )
      Since pacman caches any package you download, downgrading is in my opinion pretty easy (execpt the package depends on some library of a certain version). All you have to do is to install a previous version of a faulty package from the cache directory and let pacman ignore the package for future updates.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you like rolling releases and crave more stability, you should try aptosid [ ]. It's built on Debian sid and stabilized with it's own fix.main.

      • Actually, I don't really like rolling releases, but I tolerate it because it's what Arch Linux uses. I prefer Arch Linux's extreme simplicity over Debian's incredible complexity which is why I use it. Just having to keep track of the 10 programs you need to just manage packages on Debian gives me migraines, not to mention the convoluted system configuration setup on Debian. Arch Linux is *dead* simple which is why I use it. The shortfalls of Arch Linux are:

        - Rolling releases with little support for choo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fri13 ( 963421 )

      How big is your Pacman cache? I have 12Gb and since installation (over 11 months) I have only used 5.5 GB from it. I could even roll back to the base level what I had after installation. It is not as "press this button", but easier than doing a fresh install with Ubuntu install image.

      And do you know what you would gain with the snapshot features from the filesystems and joined it with LVM?

      I upgrade system now and then (usually 2-3 weeks) if I can not find otherwise bugs. And so far I have not yet needed to

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) *

        I use SSDs exclusively (will never buy a spinner platter drive again) and I would prefer if the old packages were hosted on a server somewhere instead of having to be cached on my drive. Seems more efficient to me for 12 GB on a server to serve hundreds of thousands of users than for each of those users to have to spend 12 GB to cache their own packages.

        That being said, I have never deleted anything from my pacman package cache so I could probably use the technique that you described. There are cases wher

  • Already possible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paugq ( 443696 ) <pgquiles&elpauer,org> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:49AM (#34342946) Homepage

    Do you want rolling releases in Ubuntu? It's always been there, really

    You only need to edit /etc/apt/sources.list and every file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d and replace "maverick" with "natty". Now apt-get update && apt-get full-upgrade.

    When Natty is out, repeat only this time replacing "natty" by the natty+1 name.

    Same thing works for Debian: replace "stable" or "lenny" with "testing" (or "unstable", if you are brave).

    IMHO, Ubuntu should provide a "next" name, like the "testing" and "unstable" release version names in Debian, for people who want rolling releases.

    • It's always been there even if you don't edit sources.list. I didn't understand the hype (was there any?) yesterday, nor I do today.
    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      I found Debian's unstable to be a little bit _too_ unstable. It didn't feel like it's really meant for daily use (which given the name it probably isn't).

      Disclaimer: I'm a Gentoo user, and while I did give Debian a fair try (about a year and a half) a lot of the issues I ran into were probably due to my own stupidity.

      Gentoo isn't exactly the hallmark of stability either, but I think it pulls off the rolling update approach better (which of course makes sense, as this is how it's meant to be used by everyone

  • I so called it in the previous thread. People just love to go crazy over little things, eh?

  • In my personal opinion, a half-rolling release model would be a great idea. I want my base system(xorg/kernel/gnome or kde) to be as stable as possible. But why would anyone need to wait 6 month or use some PPA to get the latest version of Firefox/Chrome/GIMP/Whatever? I was taking a look at Chakra (a KDE-oriented distro with Archlinux roots) a few days ago and found their half rolling-release model idea to be extremely good. I hope to see something similar in other distros in the future.
  • The ubuntu "rolling release" issue is critical for servers and corporate users, but not for individuals. For people with a handful of machines, a simple weekly or monthly cronjob with aptitude or apt-get (i.e. with debian ubuntu) will do. Besides, I don't think that most standalone users will see noticeable changes between slight incremental changes in the kernel. Waiting for a cronjob to take up an incremental upgrade a few days after the fact won't matter at all for most individual users.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll