I'm not a computer person. I understand computers, but I don't like dealing with computers. I read LWN every week, and am an able programmer, but fundamentally, I want computers to just work. I last installed Debian maybe four years ago, configured it up very nicely, and haven't really reconfigured anything on my computer other than the periodic apt-get update/upgrade, to keep me current for security patches. In addition, kernel security holes force me to upgrade periodically. Right now, I grab a new kernel from kernel.org, copy the .config, check for new options, build, and reboot. Minor pain-in-the-ass, but manageable even if I'm on deadline. The computer does stuff for a while, but I have 5 minutes, so I can keep everything up-to-date.
I haven't had time to migrate to 2.6. I tried once. Too much time. Didn't have time to finish. I'll do it someday, but reconfiguring all the hardware and every subsystem is a royal pain.
What concerns me is the following:
I'm on deadline. A security hole is found in the kernel, so I must upgrade. Say I'm running 2.6.12 at the time, since keeping up with 2.6 is too much work, and the current kernel is 2.6.41. With this model, upgrading is really untenable. I won't have time to reconfigure everything, figure out ALSA was removed in favor of some new sound system, iptables works differently, so my firewall breaks, and either way, I have 100 new/changed options in make menuconfig to redo.
I don't/can't run stock distribution kernels, since I did configure up my system with a nice firewall, power management, support for esoteric hardware, etc. Some things in this (I don't recall what) weren't in the stock kernel.
I'm just an end-user, but the same applies to corporate installs that want a consistent system. To you, 2.4 may be obsolete, but to me, it's stable and fast/easy to manage. I don't want to be forced to upgrade my kernel to a significantly different one anytime a security hole is found, or even for new hardware (except in extreme examples; maybe for PCI->PCI/X or something). I also don't need features backported; the only thing I might need in the new kernel are the new device drivers.
I'd be much happier if some version of 2.6 was just marked as "stable," and had just drivers and security fixes backported to it. Otherwise, I'd continue the above development model with the mainstream kernel marked 2.7 "semistable," together with 2.7-mm/2.7-ac "unstable"?
As with Debian, most users would run kernel/testing, developers would run kernel/unstable, and technologically-backwards old farts like me would have a nice kernel/stable. Stable here wouldn't just mean "won't crash," but the more traditional definition of "won't change much."
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