There is one important thing that hasn't been mentioned so far, namely the speed of the
bug-fix cycle. Consider the majority of LWN readers; technically literate, able to file good
bug reports, and probably write some software of our own. Yet, we don't want to delve into
every single program.
For example, I run Ubuntu, and I update every 6 months. I can't deal with all the
instabilities of running a devel version on my primary system. Let's say I find a bug in KDE,
which particularly annoys me.
(1) The KDE folks will quite reasonably expect me to test with the latest release before
filing the bug report. But I'm running a version somewhere between 3-9 months old, even though
I track the latest Ubuntu release. It's a major effort to re-build KDE, just to verify a
(2) If the bug gets fixed, (or has already been fixed), it will take an average of 3 months
before I get to evaluate, comment on, or benefit from the fix.
As a result:
* The vast majority of technical users produce bug reports of limited value to upstream;
this is a huge waste of potential talent.
* Motivation is limited, since most people don't get the benefit of the fixes for the bugs
that they report, in a timely manner.
* Multiple people hit the same bug, even if it's fixed, because it doesn't get pushed
downstream. Again, a huge waste of time.
* The oops-report-fix-enjoy cycle takes up to 9 months, instead of 3 days.
My suggestion is that distros should automatically backport every package on a nightly basis,
and provide binaries of the latest CVS, as well as the latest stable-release. These packages
must be built against the stable distro, and should be installable via the package manager.
(they should not be brought in by default though).
I also suggest that most end-users should file most of their bug reports upstream.
Distro-developers only have the resources to be dealing with bug-fixes that they can push out
to all users, eg security and application-crash bugs.