Time for rolling release focus?
Posted May 18, 2012 5:28 UTC (Fri) by lemmings
In reply to: Time for rolling release focus?
Parent article: Stable distributions and unstable software
I also run a number of servers and appreciate the enterprise distro model in that it saves me time from not having to deal with upgrades breaking things.
Unfortunately it does cause problems though as the software versions become obsolete causing development pain due to missing features or old bugs. The distribution eventually reaches end of life and then the OS major version upgrade becomes a huge exercise in planning. This is just a cost many server admins have to wear to keep mission critical services from breaking.
The desktop is a different situation though. The quality of the experience is what counts rather than mission critical availability of services.
I would argue that the free software community would be better able to improve the end user experience by closing the loop between the developers and the end users and feedback in a fashion similar to OODA loop
Right now as an end user on my Fedora desktop, it is a major PITA to effectively
deal with software bugs. If I hit a bug, I have no idea if it has already been fixed in a newer stable version. Searching bug trackers can take quite a while. It may already have been fixed and I have to report to the distribution vendor to get the newer version available. This wastes my time and the distributions. Even if the bug isn't fixed upstream, it's going to take a while to download and install the upstream version to test it. And if I figure it out and either fix it or get the developer to fix it, then there is still the delay in getting the fixed version to end users. End result is that there is a lot of double handling and back porting and the rate of development (from the end user perspective) is really slowed down.
If quality of individual bits of software can be decent enough, then I think the Linux kernel model of continuous stable releases is the way to go as a way to save our limited developer time and improve distributions. I hate to think how much effort the free software community must put into triaging bug reports, coordinating fixes, and back porting patches due to everything that sits between the end user and the developers. Effort that could be better spent improving the free software ecosystem...
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