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#1 2023-04-01 09:50:07

Danbos
Member
Registered: 2023-04-01
Posts: 1

Can anyone help me grok rolling release?

I’m a long-time occasional Linux user who has never (until now) really focused on learning Linux.  I have dabbled with Arch (installed it on one machine as an experiment) and I get a really good gut feeling about it from the wiki and community, it seems like the best distro for people who want to understand their system really well, but without getting all weird and religious about it. Currently trying to decide whether to install it on my old gaming PC that I plan to repurpose as a workstation for experimenting with AI/ML. Also considering just going with Ubuntu, as I have used that a lot in the past so I feel I know my way around it. But I prefer the general attitude of Arch from what I can tell.

Here’s the thing I am stuck on, and maybe it’s a dumb question... I gather that people like Arch’s rolling release model because it means you don’t have to deal with a big complicated update every few years. But doesn’t that mean you have to deal with little updates all the time? If so, can someone help me understand why frequent small updates might be preferable to rare big updates? (It sounds like that’s the trade-off - or am I misunderstanding?)

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#2 2023-04-01 10:18:33

Allan
Pacman
From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 11,383
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Re: Can anyone help me grok rolling release?

The vast majority of little small updates have no issue.  But if you do run into one, it really limits down the packages that cause it.

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#3 2023-04-01 10:42:04

mpan
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Registered: 2012-08-01
Posts: 1,199
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Re: Can anyone help me grok rolling release?

Danbos wrote:

it seems like the best distro for people who want to understand their system really well, but without getting all weird and religious about it.

Second to Gentoo users, you will not find a crowd more “religious” than Archers. big_smile

Danbos wrote:

If so, can someone help me understand why frequent small updates might be preferable to rare big updates?

This question implies there was a statement about rolling release being preferable in absolute sense. There is not. It’s just one of release models and some projects will use it, without it being inherently “better”.

As for advantages and disadvantages:

  • (✓) Improved and fast-paced developer-user interaction cycle.

  • (✓) Less burden on software developers: they can focus more on current and important issues, rather than errors arising only in some rare combination of packages from months or years ago. If the software is built with defaults, as it is the policy in Arch, it also means developers do not need to deal with distro customizations.

  • (✓) Easier and less stressful integration of changes, as the user can deal with them one at the time.

  • (✓) No need to maintain separate codebase with backports.

  • (✓/✗) Work more evenly spread. This may be considered an advantage or disadvantage, depending on personal preferences.

  • (✓/✗) Requiring software to be maintained. This may be considered a plus or minus, depending on personal preferences and circumstances. If your boss requires you to run some outdated software, it may be a rough ride.

  • (✗) Restarting services or rebooting may be required more often than with single-point releases. That may be not appreciated in some use cases.

  • (✗) User is on the front line. If there is a bug, it hits you and search engines deliver no answer. Serious issues happen very rarely. But, if they do, you must be able to roll back and accept the inevitable risk of delays in the worst possible moment.

  • (✗) Some users may perceive their environment as “less stable”, though I would say this is a purely psychological phenomenon.


Sometimes I seem a bit harsh — don’t get offended too easily!

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#4 2023-04-01 12:28:25

dogknowsnx
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Registered: 2021-04-12
Posts: 648

Re: Can anyone help me grok rolling release?

Maybe it's also worth pointing out that you don't have to update frequently - you just don't want to do partial updates (it's updating everything or nothing, whether it'd be daily or monthly.) If you decide to wait a month or so before doing an update, a lot of package updates will have accumulated, and it's more likely that possible bugs have been ironed out already, and the downside being that it will be harder to pinpoint what broke (if something breaks)...

Last edited by dogknowsnx (2023-04-01 12:31:18)


RI - Rest your Eyes and Self

"We are eternal, all this pain is an illusion" - Maynard James Keenan

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#5 2023-04-01 12:40:17

Trilby
Inspector Parrot
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 29,514
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Re: Can anyone help me grok rolling release?

Danbos wrote:

If so, can someone help me understand why frequent small updates might be preferable to rare big updates?

If you need to descend several hundred meters in elevation, would you prefer to walk down the smooth rolling hill or jump off the cliff?

Obviously there's a bit of facetiousness there.  Each model has it's pros and cons.  But the cliff / hill analogy really does capture the biggest advantage of the rolling release model for me.


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

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