Avi Greenbury avismailinglistaccount at googlemail.com
Tue Jan 11 21:40:55 UTC 2011

Liam Proven wrote:

> On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 4:42 PM, Gilles Gravier <ggravier at fsfe.org>
> wrote:
> > Hi, Liam!
> >
> > Yes. That's the reason. 4.0 is a major update. In effect, more of an
> > upgrade. :)
> Ahh, I see.
> I have to say, I don't agree. Keeping people current is a good thing,
> surely? I'd think it would reduce the support burden.

Why? When I was working on a support desk I don't recall many users
viewing being 'recent' as much of a priority. They just want everything
to carry on working, and once something's working the best way to
ensure that is to not change it.
Hence the usual approach of making as few changes to the system as
possible when fixing any existing bugs, in an attempt to avoid
introducing new ones.

In fact now I'm still technically in a support role (supporting people
who run things on webish servers), and they're even less inclined to
change things. Once the site's set up to use whatever nuances exist in
the current versions of whatever software the site depends on, it's very
hard to argue that, actually, we should migrate to the next iteration
replete with a new API. That just increaces complexity - it works now,
why change it?

> To be honest, I do not see much difference. There is a preview pane in
> the manager window and that seems to be it. I've installed the new
> Guest Additions - do I need to do anything else for USB2 support?

I don't know, I don't use VirtualBox myself.

> > Also, there is a new model now. Starting with 4.0, there is only one
> > download which is all Open Source. Then you need to download
> > extension packs to support USB 2.0 devices, VirtualBox RDP and PXE
> > boot for Intel cards (and that is not open source).

This is exactly the sort of reason why this upgrade shouldn't be
automatic with a routine bug-fix update (which is, after all, what an
apt-get upgrade is expected to be). Were VirtualBox 4.x to be dropped in
to replace 3.x as part of a routine upgrade, you'd unexpectedly alter
the environment of the users.
More pertinently, you'd be offering the users the choice of either
accepting and working-round the changes in 3.x->4.z, or not having bug

With a change as major as that, there will almost certainly be
accompanying changes to the contents of a configuration file. People
who, say, generate their config files on-the-fly like to assume they
wont suddenly be generating broken config files, for example.
The new code to deal with the pluggable USB support *will* have bugs in
it, because new code always does. Of course, not all these bugs will be
broken software. Some will be changes to undocumented features, or an
active decision to do something in a different way.

As I say, there are rolling-release distros that stay much closer to
the bleeding edge than Ubuntu does, and if what you want is software
that's much newer than Ubuntu offers, you might find that's what you
want. A lot of Ubuntu's market (especially companies) appreciate the
stability of the current system, and I'd wager that most Linux users
do, too. 

But, as they say, there is a distro for everybody. Being mostly a Debian
user myself, things the bleeding-edge side of Ubuntu isn't really
something I know much about, though :)


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