Why OS releases *can't* include up-to-date versions [was: Why does Bazaar download so much data for a small change?]

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Fri Feb 6 03:17:59 GMT 2009

Colin D Bennett writes:
 > On Thu, 5 Feb 2009 17:14:02 +0100
 > Jelmer Vernooij <jelmer at vernstok.nl> wrote:
 > > Only security patches. If Ubuntu would be updating upstream
 > > releases in already released Ubuntu versions, what would the point of
 > > releasing be at all?
 > To provide new installation media (live CDs/DVDs, etc.) or make really
 > major changes?

Which is pointless, unless the vendor plans to QA them, because
installation media are inherently static and a real focal point for
creating ex-customers.  Ditto "major changes".  It's no longer true
that the majority of users actively want the majority of major changes
(and hasn't been since the end of the previous millennium).  And
remember, the people who demand stability are generally the same ones
willing to offer more than bug reports in return for the product (up
to and including that precious small change!)

But QAing takes a long time (~12-24 months for a fully supported OS
release, ~1-3 months for a beta), and each package must be QAed in the
context of stability of other packages.  So in effect what you are
proposing is multiple overlapping release processes.  Even Micro$$$oft
can't afford that.  If you really think Ubuntu's too slow (ie, there's
a market niche for a similar release with more up-to-date packages and
less QA), you can go the Centos route and repackage their betas as
your releases.  (Centos's strategy actually is a little bit different,
but the repackaging idea is the same.)

People who want the bleeding edge can have that, too, via beta releases
and PPAs.  I do that myself, but I'm a professor; if my system goes
down, the students have one less homework assignment, and I don't have
to grade it ... good deal all around.<wink>  For a less sanguine view
of "always on the bleeding edge" workflows, see


As usual, "scathing" hardly seems to capture Jamie's Bad Attitude.

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