LTS and release methodology

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Tue Jul 8 09:28:40 UTC 2008

On Tue, Jul 08, 2008 at 10:38:01AM +0200, Krzysztof Lichota wrote:
> 2008/7/7 Matt Zimmerman <mdz at>:
> > On Mon, Jul 07, 2008 at 10:43:44AM -0500, Luke L wrote:
> >> --New software should not be included simply because it is new, quite the opposite: new software should rarely included. Firefox beta and OOo 2.4 are notable examples.
> >
> > I can't agree with you on this point.  In my experience with open source
> > software, I have nearly always been better off with current software.
> > Ubuntu was founded with the idea of delivering this to users.
> >
> > Newer software may introduce some new problems, and it may fix some.
> > However, software which remains unchanged will never improve.
> I can't agree here. IMO bugs which people already know, they got used
> to and found workarounds for, are less damaging for system reputation
> than bugs which are unexpected.

I don't think we're arguing the same point here.  I agree that known bugs
are often preferable to unknown bugs, and this is why Ubuntu releases have
overlapping maintenance cycles.  For folks who want old, predictable,
well-known behavior (even though it has some bugs which may have been fixed
in subsequent releases), Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (desktop) will be maintained for
another year.

> But the answer is pretty simple: do not choose. Ship both versions and
> let users choose which version to use. Preferably make application
> possible to live side-by-side, i.e. version 2.3 and 2.4 can coexist at
> the same time.

This sounds simple enough, but the implementation gets complex very quickly,
as does future maintenance and support.  "Which version of Ubuntu are you
running?" suddenly isn't as useful to the person on the other end of the
phone trying to help you, and the question "do I have the necessary security
updates installed?" no longer has a simple answer.  Which version of
OpenOffice should launch when you click on a document in Firefox?

> Additionally, ship _newer_ versions of important apps to LTS releases,
> so that continuity is kept. If LTSx release contains OpenOffice 2.2
> and new version 2.3 appears, port it to LTSx, so that when version
> LTSx+1 appears with version 2.3 and 2.4, they will be able to
> transition smoothly by using version 2.3 (assuming it works for them).

The backports repositories attempt to provide this kind of experience, and
also demonstrates some of the shortcomings of this approach.

 - mdz

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