Ubuntu considers “huge” change that would end traditional release cycle - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 01-22-2013, 09:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ubuntu considers “huge” change that would end traditional release cycle

In the nine-year history of Ubuntu Linux, a new version of the operating system has come out every six months. But Canonical, Ubuntu's developer, is considering ditching that model in favor of one that produces an entirely new version only once every two years—while speeding up the overall pace of development by adopting a "rolling release" cycle in between.

Ubuntu 12.10 (thus named because it came out in October 2012) has just arrived, and 13.04 and 13.10 will come in April and October of 2013. But 14.04 in April 2014 could be the last version released after just a six-month development period. 14.04 is also the next "Long Term Support" or LTS edition. Every two years, Ubuntu is sort of frozen in place with a more stable edition that is guaranteed support for five years. If the change Canonical is considering is adopted, every future edition starting with 14.04 will be an LTS, so the next version after 14.04 would be 16.04 in April 2016.

Why bother? Canonical kernel team manager Leann Ogasawara explained in a Google hangout today that this proposal is on the table because Canonical thinks it can deliver both stability and cutting-edge features with rolling releases. For the two years between LTS releases, there would be no new versions but there would be lots of updates.

Nothing is "set in stone," but "when we hit the next 14.04 release it could go from 14.04 to 16.04, and everything in between is what we consider a rolling release. You're going to be pushed and following the latest package releases, not only from the kernel but also from the entire distribution."

Ubuntu developers have been discussing this potential shift for a little while as part of talks about the "road to 14.04." But it hasn't generated a ton of attention because "the whole phone announcement came out and that took center stage," Ogasawara said.

The six-month update cycle ties Canonical's hands a little bit in deciding what features go into each release. For example, Ubuntu developers have already decided that Linux 3.8 is the version of the kernel that will land in Ubuntu 13.04. What if Linux 3.9 had some amazing new features or fixes that Canonical wanted to get into the next version of Ubuntu? With a rolling release, Ubuntu developers could do that by waiting just a little while instead of six months.

There are challenges to conquer, though. "That is a huge task to take on from a distribution standpoint, making sure everything works well together on a daily basis," Ogasawara said. "But I think we're getting there already in having daily quality from our QA (quality assurance) team. They're running daily boot tests and smoke tests."

Canonical must also consider that there would be "impacts on users of Ubuntu, and are they going to be satisfied with only having a major release every two years and only having a rolling release between," she said.

ExtremeTech weighed in with some good analysis of this possible change today. "A major disadvantage of a rolling release is that they tend to be less stable than a standard release, as standard releases have more time to be inspected and tested before they are released into the wild," ExtremeTech wrote. "Rolling releases are ever-changing, potentially creating new problems, but also providing the most current security updates, software fixes, and really whatever else is included in the updates."


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Old 02-16-2013, 01:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ubuntu considers “huge” change that would end traditional release cycle

This makes a truckload of sense. It was cute at first because Ubuntu had a monumental amount of "catching up" to do in regard to the functionality that Windows and Mac OS brought to the table. Each release was like being a kid at Christmas, waiting to see what new features or bugs were fixed. Now that Ubuntu is very stable and has features that allow the platform to stand firmly on its own two feet, the excitement of upgrading has kind of worn off. For a while now I have lost interest in upgrading to newer 6 month release cycles, and instead began to favor the "I just want it to work without fussing with it" attitude, which has landed me on the LTS bandwagon. Since the 6 month releases were largely used for a testing ground for new features that might potentially hit the LTS, it stands to good reason to roll-release this segment of the OS. That way instead of worrying about upgrading to the newest 6 month release to see what's new, you can just update and call it a day. Then when it comes to production systems, or perhaps you're like me and just want the damn thing to work and aren't too worried about having the latest features that aren't even an hour old yet, LTS is there for you.

I'd be all in favor of this.
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