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Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 1:04 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313)
In reply to: Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases by fest3er
Parent article: Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

I don't think that we are really disagreeing on the goals (although since I am using a KDE desktop right now, I disagree with the statement that it's "unusable" :-)

People want their systems to work. if an upgrade breaks things, it's a problem

However, Mark is correct when he says that one of the lessons that people keep re-learning is that if you have a hard thing to do (in this case, shipping a solid release), focusing on the problem and figuring out how to make it more reliable and easier to do so that you can do it more frequently results in many unexpected benefits.

Remember when Kernel releases were very infrequent "when it's ready"?, moving to a much more frequent release has resulted in a much more reliable kernel, as well as drastically increasing the development speed.

Mark raises the question "could they make releases more frequently", if they can continue to drive down the time between releases, at some point it becomes indistinguishable from a "true rolling release" I put the ultimate limit at 'daily releases', but realistically, if they made 12 releases a year (with good reliability and without breaking users), would that be very different from a true rolling release? I think it would be much closer to a rolling release than the current six month schedule

As to the cause of the upheavals right now, far too many projects don't care about backwards compatibility, and the result is breakage. There is not going to be any way to fix such projects other then for them to get smarter, or for them to be replaced.


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Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 2:07 UTC (Fri) by mmonaco (subscriber, #84041) [Link]

One major reason to do a "release" is that you'll support the included versions by packing bug-fix releases. I got the feeling from Mark's article that the hardness he was referring to was coordinating to do a release, not the difficulty of maintaining X versions of a package. Does the Ubuntu community have the manpower to maintain even more active releases? Would monthly releases mean that the non-LTS support window will be cut much shorter?

(Disclaimer: Arch Linux user)

Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 4:29 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

remember that I'm the one who suggested eventually getting to monthly releases, not Mark.

As I see it (and I could be wrong) the support time is based on allowing people who don't want to do every upgrade to upgrade at a more comfortable pace.

faster releases may eventually address that, but it will take time so I would expect that support would not shorten soon, if at all

But the conditions for going to a really fast release cycle would be that the upgrades are bulletproof for the users, so support may shorten

After all, almost all users are comfortable (and for the most part unaware) of their browsers getting upgraded at a rate that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, but it took making the upgrade seamless for the user (and some teething problems) to get to that point.

I wouldn't expect to see any change in the pace of releases through 2014, but if they are concentrating on trying to get the releases easier and more reliable

but keep in mind, fast releases by themselves make doing upgrades easier because you don't have to change everything every release. If they were to do monthly releases they would only change kernels every 3 releases (if that frequently), same with glibc and gnome. That makes it easy to say that you don't change any two of these key components in the same release, which greatly simplifies testing, upgrades, etc

It also would greatly reduce the pressure to get something that's not really ready into a release as it doesn't hurt as much to back it out and try again in the next release (or the one after that)

It will be interesting to see what (if anything) comes out of this.

Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 19:13 UTC (Fri) by mike.cloaked (subscriber, #63120) [Link]

So there is a big discussion going on in the Ubuntu world about whether or not to go to a rolling release model - but right now ArchLinux is already a successful rolling release distribution. ArchLinux has excellent developers and the rolling release system works - even with occasional manual intervention needed periodically it is always very up to date without the pain of annual or more frequent complete re-installs from scratch which is a massive advantage compared to non-rolling-release-distributions. So not only is the question of whether or not it is possible to do a rolling release it is demonstrably successful!

Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 20:42 UTC (Fri) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

it is always very up to date without the pain of annual or more frequent complete re-installs from scratch which is a massive advantage compared to non-rolling-release-distributions

I use Debian, which is a »non-rolling-release-distribution«. I do not do »annual or more frequent complete re-installs from scratch«. Upgrading works just fine and has for a long time.

Debian: Rolling-release distro?

Posted Mar 11, 2013 16:28 UTC (Mon) by Max.Hyre (guest, #1054) [Link]

I use Debian as well, and I follow the unstable branch, doing a dist-upgrade every evening. How much more rolling would you like? :-)

True, I don't use it for production (read: anyone but me depends on it), and I check the list of changes before throwing the switch, because every few months there may be a case where some things would happen that I don't want to follow. Usually waiting a couple of days straightens it out.

Nonetheless, but it’s what I run on my main computer, and I don't remember the last time it was even close to being hosed— at least a couple of years.

Shuttleworth: Not convinced by rolling releases

Posted Mar 8, 2013 10:48 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

I put the ultimate limit at 'daily releases', but realistically, if they made 12 releases a year (with good reliability and without breaking users), would that be very different from a true rolling release?
Why stop at daily releases? I have embraced the paradigm of continuous delivery and it's not a buzz word, it's really useful. Every push to the repo results in an integration, a run of the test suites and a deployment. Guess what? It works! We made 10~20 deployments per day. Much more stability than with weekly or daily releases, and the very rare breakage is solved in 15 minutes (since we know exactly what broke: the latest push).

A true rolling release should take validation very seriously and run its tests 24/7. I don't know if it's feasible at the scale of a whole distro, but many people are trying it at ever-growing scales (see e.g. this blog) and have not been disappointed. Also, Debian testing (when not frozen) is a good example.

So the key point in the quoted sentence is "good reliability and without breaking users", and continuous delivery has the potential of being better than daily or monthly releases.


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