reflecting on first UDS session on "rolling releases"

Robie Basak robie.basak at
Thu Mar 7 11:52:40 UTC 2013

On Wed, Mar 06, 2013 at 07:34:55AM -0800, Allison Randal wrote:
> Also remember that, as the idea currently stands, the tiny set of
> "enthusiasts" are the only people who will get updated versions of
> applications. The majority of users will have a stale experience, and no
> reasonable alternative.

To expand on this "stale experience", I think there's a whole separate
important class of users. These are users who otherwise would use the
LTS, but need some particular feature or version of some program that is
newer than the LTS.

These users aren't necessarily self-selecting; anyone at any point may
find himself in this class. I certainly have. Before I worked for
Canonical I generally used six-monthly releases, but only updated when I
needed or wanted something specific, upgrading through multiple releases
at a time.

Another example: I found that some particular wireless card didn't work
except in the latest 6-monthly release. So I put my mother onto that
until the next LTS was released. Here, I wanted to use the LTS but was
unable, so I put her on a supported release that didn't change under her
until an LTS was available.

I think a rolling release would mostly serve this class of user, except
perhaps in environments where multiple people want to be on the same
release (eg. they are developing against a framework for which they need
a newer version than the LTS).

Backports and PPAs could also help solve this for some specific cases,
but in general I think we need far more PPAs and backports for this to
work. The problem is that the group of users who need this often aren't
in a position to do the backport themselves, so it doesn't happen.


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