reflecting on first UDS session on "rolling releases"

Mike Carifio carifio at
Thu Mar 7 17:41:44 UTC 2013

> Proposals like moving to a rolling release are an attempt to
> evolve our existing processes to new realities and requirements,
> but I think we need to go one step farther and question why we
> are so tied to our distro model, where apps and platform are
> tightly bound.

The convenience of "one-stop shopping" has now become a bottleneck for 
app deployment. Most other platforms appear to separate out delivering 
the platform (usually as a unified whole) from the applications (usually 
individually). It's an easier model to understand and better reflects 
the skills and expertise of most programmers.

> I agree the distro model was good and necessary before Linux (and
> Ubuntu) were popular platforms. In those days, we needed distro
> developers to bring apps to the platform to entice users.
> My claim is that we've since solved the chicken and egg problem.
> We *have* an enticing platform that attracts app developers from
> weekend hobbyists to giants like Valve.

'Solved' might be a little strong here, but I think I agree that there's 
enough critical mass that Ubuntu now makes it into the short list of 
platforms developers might support.

> Let's spend our time improving plumbing like making app backports
> to the stable platform easy or enabling system updates on an
> embedded device in a sane manner or maintaining library APIs
> across stable releases.
> Let's figure out how to decouple and disentangle our apps from
> our platform.
> Let's stop trying to have (and do) it all.

Yup. I would say that most professional application developers would 
love Ubuntu to be a stable predictable platform that finds the "right" 
tradeoff between "newness" and "risk of breaking". This includes the 
developer platform (the computer I write code with) and the delivery 
platform (the computer my customer runs my app on). As a developer, I 
can live with some breakage if its infrequent and I get the new stuff. 
As I understand it, the new automated testing regime gets us there ... 

Putting my "app developer" hat on, I want to focus on writing my 
application as much as possible and "delegating" the grotty plumbing to 
Ubuntu. This includes installing onto a stable platform. I'd like Ubuntu 
to tell me how to create an installation procedure (in English please). 
I don't want the Microsoft model, where people specialize just in 
writing installers and can pay thousands of dollars USD for the best 
tools to do it ( 
I'm not sure I want to be a captive of an "app store" ala Apple or 
Google, especially if it slows me down, or is too expensive, or causes 
my wonderful application to disappear in the crowd.

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