Non-"critical" bug fixes/new hardware drivers in stable releases?

Tim Hull thully at
Thu Aug 30 22:32:55 UTC 2007


I've been lurking/occasionally posting here for a while, and I would like to
bring up an issue that has been a real annoyance in my attempted use of
Ubuntu (as well as other Linux distributions, notably Debian) this summer.

In short, while I feel that Ubuntu has made real progress with regards to
desktop Linux - comparing Hoary and Feisty (the last release I had used
prior to this summer) is like night and day.  More works out of the box,
it's FAR easier to get all the popular non-free codecs, and it generally
feels like a modern desktop operating system.

However, in installing Ubuntu I ran into a whole slew of issues that, while
not "will make your system explode/lets hackers in/causes data loss" bad,
are quite annoying nevertheless.  Some examples include:

1.  Many USB storage devices can't be properly unmounted using the GUI.  One
must use the console or use non-optimal workarounds (that are distinctly
UNSUPPORTED) to fix this.  The bug in particular can be found at

2. My laptop (a MacBook, don't laugh :) ) won't suspend-to-RAM with the
default kernel.  To be precise, it will suspend, but it will not resume :)
This is fixed in newer kernels (such as those in Gutsy) and can be worked
around with a kernel recompile in 2.6.20.  However, one must either compile
a kernel or use apt-pinning with Gutsy sources to use this fix - a decidedly
unsupported and nonintuitive fix.

3. Many other examples that I can't think of off the top of my head - though
one may see many of these by looking at the "Howto configure XYZ" wiki
pages.  Words such as "recompile", "add this repository", etc etc seem to be
a constant occurence here.  This is especially apparent when it comes to new
hardware that has drivers, albeit ones that weren't ready as of the stable

What these issues have in common is that, under current policy (which calls
for updates for security/data loss type issues ONLY), there is little or no
chance of having them fixed in the stable release.  While I can see the
merit of keeping changes to "stable" to a minimum, it seems like the
existing policy of Ubuntu (and many distributions - I'm not blaming Ubuntu
in particular) is leaving many users out in the cold with regards to their
issues until the next release.

I can see this policy for a server or enterprise desktop (and thus the LTS
releases), but not a normal desktop.  For desktop users, it ends up making
them fix some bugs/hardware support issues themselves using the command
line/third-party repositories/building from source - which is something that
should be avoided.  Has there been any consideration to easing the stable
release updates policy to accommodate issues like these?

I'm not necessarily advocating that the stable release receive every update
under the sun (certainly not feature-only updates), but it seems like
allowing more bug fixes/new drivers to enter the stable release would be
beneficial to many end users. I think that many users are probably turned
off by the "recompile, add this unsupported software, hack this code, etc
etc" (I know this is what always ends up pushing me away from Linux) and
this would go a long way towards alleviating this.

Any comments?  I'm especially wondering what developers think of this

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