#1 Complaint about Ubuntu: Updates break things

Cody A.W. Somerville cody-somerville at ubuntu.com
Fri Dec 19 17:46:28 GMT 2008

Hello Folks,

 After getting yet another phone call from one of the many average, everyday
users I know using Ubuntu about how after downloading and installing yet
another mammoth load of updates on her Ubuntu machine, running a stable,
supported release, her computer crashed with the following scary message,
I've decided to write this e-mail.

Aborted because of invalid compressed format (err=2)
Kernel Panic: SYNCING VFS, unable to mount root fs on unknown-block.

The #1 complaint about Ubuntu that I hear time and time again from both joe
blow end users and business/enterprise users is that updates to stable
releases *break* stable releases. However, the impression I gather of the
developer mentality is that we want to increase our bandwidth and ability,
via changes to policy and/or processes, to make SRUs quicker and fastar.
Instead, I believe we should be focusing on how to improve the quality of
these updates and reduce the number of regressions and breakages occurring
in stable releases.

For example, "Oh, we'll fix that in -updates" is the wrong attitude IMHO.
"The stable serie usually has fixes worth having and not too many unstable
changes (though the stable SVN code usually doesn't get lot of testing)" is
the wrong attitude IMHO. "I'll just rely on someone else to test my changes
properly and thoroughly" is the wrong attitude IMHO!

I think its rather sad when I hear comments like the following:

dude, update breakage is why I jump to the devel release as soon as I can.
It really sucks when you can't stick with a release for more than a few
> months before it's kinda unusable.
> Specially with LTS releases, 3 years? heck no

Updates are the most infuriating part about using Ubuntu. I'd disable them
> but even -security breaks my computer sometimes because they base off of the
> packages in -updates which means I get non-security updates I don't want!

 Oh look, time to download the usual barrage of 20-60 updates I get with
> Ubutu each week. I wonder if its going to break my computer this week.

> Ubuntu updates is like Russian roulette.

Updates breaking stable releases is a serious issue.  I think we need to
re-evaluate stable release updates and the numerous exceptions/breaks that
have been granted to packages (or groups of packages) such as gnome.


Cody A.W. Somerville
Software Systems Release Engineer
Custom Engineering Solutions Group
Canonical OEM Services
Cell: 506-449-5899
Email: cody.somerville at canonical.com
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