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#1 2018-09-06 06:59:03

Skunky
Member
Registered: 2018-01-25
Posts: 41

I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Hello everyone , i don't know if this is the right place to ask this question, anyway from what i read rolling release like Arch and Manjaro never should be reinstalled and so Debian unstable (which is rolling release). I will use Debian for my example because it has a rolling release and one point release, what's the difference between these two?Why the point release will need clean a install after a while and the rolling release won't?Doesn't the same stuff get upgraded??
i hope i explained myself well enough, english is not my native language.
Thanks in advance

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#2 2018-09-06 07:48:47

x33a
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Registered: 2009-08-15
Posts: 4,532
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Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Not a support question, moving to GNU/Linux Discussion.

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#3 2018-09-06 08:08:34

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 5,187

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Rolling release: A new version of a package is out, it gets packaged and distributed after a testing period.

Point release: The distribution releases a specific version of each package and those packages are not updated against releases. Security and bugfixes may or may not be backported. The goal is to have stable features between every release, so no new features are being added and, most importantly, no features suddenly disappear.

It is only partially true, that point releases require regular "clean installs". The Ubuntu upgrade feature, for example, has been working rather well for a very long time.

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#4 2018-09-06 08:47:43

Skunky
Member
Registered: 2018-01-25
Posts: 41

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Thanks for the explanation, I was really confused about this, once i read on Ubuntu forum that upgrade was possible but not recommended, i also stopped trying point release distro because i feel like all the customization and everything else i do will be lost when a new version will be out, i guess i was wrong big_smile

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#5 2018-09-06 08:57:14

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 5,187

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Skunky wrote:

once i read on Ubuntu forum that upgrade was possible but not recommended

This was once a universal truth. I had several clients with Ubuntu laptops, the last time an update broke a system due to a broken upgrade mechanism, was in 2013 and then when they swapped out upstart for systemd. There is still potential trouble with /etc files, but the average office user doesn't mess with them too much anyway. The major source of trouble are the config files in your home folder, but that's not specific to point release upgrades and happens regularly in a rolling release.

Skunky wrote:

i feel like all the customization and everything else i do will be lost when a new version will be out, i guess i was wrong big_smile

You're wrong about this whether or not upgrades work. Migrating customization from one Linux system to another is rather easy. All you need to do is back up your /etc and home folder, your /usr/local tree and everything you might have put in, say, /srv and re-integrate those things once your fresh system is up and running. Settings files are text, you can diff them against the new versions of the new packages, but most of the time they will work by simply dropping your old files into the new /etc. I always create a new user to see, if there are some new interface features that might be suppressed by my old settings, but most of the time, dropping my old configs from home is fine, too. It takes about an afternoon of care every release (every six months).

Last edited by Awebb (2018-09-06 09:05:00)

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#6 2018-09-06 11:10:46

Skunky
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Registered: 2018-01-25
Posts: 41

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Thank you very much for the answers im really interested in the rolling release update concept

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#7 2018-09-06 13:58:10

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
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Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

I agree that customization can be preserved across point release upgrades, but in practice I find it much harder than implied above.  With either rolling release or point release you will periodically have to adjust your configs and customizations as the software changes (features added/removed, config options added/removed, config format changes, etc).

With a rolling release you may have to do this more frequently, but in much much smaller and more manageable steps.  When there is change in one bit of software, you may need to tweak your config file for that software slightly.  But with a point release, you can keep the same configs for years, then when you upgrade to the next point release there many be *many* relevant changes in almost every bit of software you have configured or customized to the point that it may just be easier to start from scratch with your configs.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#8 2018-09-06 14:22:23

Awebb
Member
Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 5,187

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

I just mentioned it, because I've done this for a number of clients across the distributions. I don't even think it's hard to transplant the customization of a Fedora desktop to Debian or Arch. It's relatively trivial but can be time consuming. The only real rodeo is font-config related stuff across distros, that can lead to the occasional dislodged hair or two, along with obscure hardware support. Gotta go though, there are Mr's. Dunning and Kruger at the front door asking for a word.

Last edited by Awebb (2018-09-06 14:22:37)

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#9 2018-09-06 14:27:23

drcouzelis
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From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,994
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Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Skunky wrote:

im really interested in the rolling release update concept

Yes, that is exactly why I started using Arch Linux! I was tired of re-installing and re-configuring my entire operating system every six months. tongue

By the way, there is a thread related to this (new) topic, why you choose ArchLinux (that apparently I was the first person to respond to back in 2011 haha).

Anyway, other than a "move" to a new hard drive, I pretty much have not re-installed Arch Linux since I first installed it in November 2011. smile

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#10 2018-09-06 16:09:16

Skunky
Member
Registered: 2018-01-25
Posts: 41

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Trilby wrote:

I agree that customization can be preserved across point release upgrades, but in practice I find it much harder than implied above.  With either rolling release or point release you will periodically have to adjust your configs and customizations as the software changes.

I didn't know about this! So when i update with pacman, some applications can stop working and may need manual intervention?

drcouzelis  wrote:

Anyway, other than a "move" to a new hard drive, I pretty much have not re-installed Arch Linux since I first installed it

Cool! i changed my hard drive a month ago and used ddrescue to copy my installation, absolutely awesome!

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#11 2018-09-06 17:04:47

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 5,187

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Skunky wrote:

So when i update with pacman, some applications can stop working and may need manual intervention?

On occasion, a new version can come with new config options and old options go away. Also make sure to read the news on the main page, before you update, sometimes big updates require manual intervention. This is relatively rare. In any case, should an update fail, read the news.

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#12 2018-09-06 23:20:52

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 19,937
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Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Skunky wrote:

I didn't know about this! So when i update with pacman, some applications can stop working and may need manual intervention?

While possible, that level of incompatibility is extremely rare.  More likely you may get an error or warning upon starting the application telling you that a config option is no longer valid.  Most software allows for some degree of smooth transitions between subsequent version.  In arch you will almost always be moving from the second most recent version of a bit of software to the most recent, so the transition should be smooth.  It is more likely in a point release distro that a given bit of software may have gone through multiple version increments between the distro updates* which could make the transition much less smooth.

* that said, there are a reasonable number of big software projects that make an effort to keep deprecated features functional as long as they are in the current release of a major distro.  But there are others that really don't do this (personally I think it's a bit of a silly burden on upstream developers).

Last edited by Trilby (2018-09-06 23:39:41)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#13 2018-09-06 23:36:39

circleface
Member
Registered: 2012-05-26
Posts: 573

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

In arch you will almost always be moving from the second most recent version of a bit of software to the most recent, so the transition should be smooth.

Just to add to what Trilby said, make sure you upgrade your system regularly.  Don't wait 6 months to update, or you will almost certainly have major changes in the config files.  I usually update every day and rarely have to do anything to config files or any other kind of major maintenance.

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#14 2018-09-07 07:23:57

Skunky
Member
Registered: 2018-01-25
Posts: 41

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Trilby wrote:

While possible, that level of incompatibility is extremely rare.  More likely you may get an error or warning upon starting the application telling you that a config option is no longer valid.  Most software allows for some degree of smooth transitions between subsequent version.  In arch you will almost always be moving from the second most recent version of a bit of software to the most recent, so the transition should be smooth.  It is more likely in a point release distro that a given bit of software may have gone through multiple version increments between the distro updates* which could make the transition much less smooth.

* that said, there are a reasonable number of big software projects that make an effort to keep deprecated features functional as long as they are in the current release of a major distro.  But there are others that really don't do this (personally I think it's a bit of a silly burden on upstream developers).

circleface wrote:

Just to add to what Trilby said, make sure you upgrade your system regularly.  Don't wait 6 months to update, or you will almost certainly have major changes in the config files.  I usually update every day and rarely have to do anything to config files or any other kind of major maintenance.

So issues can occur when i update from an old version to the most recent one got it thanks!

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#15 2018-09-07 13:52:54

c00ter
Member
From: Alaskan in Washington State
Registered: 2014-08-28
Posts: 244

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

Skunky wrote:

So issues can occur when i update from an old version to the most recent one got it thanks!

They can happen but it is an infrequent occurrence on a properly configured and maintained system, hence we have the Archlinux News section on the homepage, mailing lists, IRC, these forums, etc. as informational sources, should one care to check for problems prior to updating. If a person stays involved with their operating system, Arch breakage is rather rare.

regards

EDIT: Did anyone mention partial upgrades? Avoid them.

Last edited by c00ter (2018-09-07 13:56:18)


UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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#16 2018-09-10 17:47:58

dunc
Member
From: Glasgow, UK
Registered: 2007-06-18
Posts: 558

Re: I don't understand the difference between rolling release and point

drcouzelis wrote:

Anyway, other than a "move" to a new hard drive, I pretty much have not re-installed Arch Linux since I first installed it in November 2011. smile

Woah, coincidence. I knew this install was pretty old - carried over from an older machine, in fact - but I just checked my archived pacman logs:

[2011-06-15 00:46] installed filesystem (2011.04-1)

yikes

I have a 2008 Acer Aspire One that's had exactly one reinstall since the day I bought it, and that was only because I neglected updates for so long that a new install was just easier. I migrated it to the Arch 32 spinoff last year without any issues, though.

Last edited by dunc (2018-09-10 17:48:19)


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