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some time and Ubuntu Release Cycle

For the 1st time in about two months (I know I took statistics to BarCampMKE) my citing down to write isn’t being rushed by the need to do statistics.  It is being slightly rushed by the need to pack, and I could certainly be making statistics flash cards for my final next Monday (14th), but I have a pretty good grasp of the content on the final and I’ve got today, next weekend and the week nights to do that.  Taking time off from my soccer team means that my weekend nights are free for a while and moving MadLUG meetings to the weekends is definitely going to be a stress relief for me.  We still need a permanent spot, but no more rushing to the meetings after work.

Right now, Ubuntu’s Release Cycle has the most votes for my next post.  I encourage you to continue to vote (but don’t vote for Ubuntu…that’d just be silly now.)

Also, how do I change the name of my blog?  I did it once before, but can’t remember…

Ubuntu’s Release Cycle

I say Ubuntu’s release cycle because I think it’s the most mainstream (is their argument on this? not the easiest for n00bs, but the most mainstream), but there are some other interesting release cycles I’d like to mention.  I can’t remember what Debian decided to do with releases, but I seem to recall them going to a release schedule, though they won’t ship hell-or-high-water like Ubuntu does.  Fedora does 6 month also.  OpenSUSE “recently” decided to go to an 8 month release cycle.  Between learning about the release cycle of OpenSUSE on FLOSS Weekly and Ubuntu UK’s discussion of the release cycle on what I think is the linked episode (it’s the only one I’ve listened to the whole thing and the other two I’ve started are not at all far into the podcast…a review of the podcasts to which I listen could be another show), I thought I should weigh in.

First off,  8 months is dumb, at least for a mainstream distro.  People need something that falls on a year; monthly, bi-monthly, tri-monthly, quarterly, 6 months or some integer of years (those are the things that divide into 12, if you didn’t catch that…8 doesn’t).  I know very little about the OpenSUSE community, but I think it’s fine for them if that’s what they want to do.  The idea with them was that 6 months is too short, which I’m beginning to agree with.  One point that was brought up in the Ubuntu UK discussion was that the non-LTS releases are seen by some developers as technology previews.  If that’s the case, it’s not being marketed properly for that.

All of this has made me think maybe I should move to something with a rolling release schedule.  Are there any Arch derivatives that give you GNOME out of the box?  I know there are some Gentoo derivatives such as Saboyon (note: their website looks like the 90s had a bastard child with a modern website), but I don’t think I want to spend coal burning time compiling stuff.  Now, if I were to move to Arch, I’d still want to keep up with Ubuntu development, and I could pretty easily do that (except graphics stuff) with VMs.  Right now, the dual booting is pretty lame and I’ve discovered (as one might expect) that there’s often problems in the alpha releases that make it unusable as a primary machine.  Just like the bug I filed last night.  Now, I’m happy to help out, but stuff like that is going to keep me from writing blog posts.

But, enough about me, what does Ubuntu lose with 6 month release cycles and why does this not matter for Fedora?  First off, Fedora is a distro for developers.  It has the lastest packages, which break things like Cisco AnyConnect and while I love much of the things about Fedora, upgrades are a pain in the ass (though perhaps had I used their GUI tool, I’d have found it easier, but they don’t make it obvious how to do that).  I’ve had trouble with every Fedora upgrade I’ve ever done.  I finally pulled one off successfully last night with some help from #Fedora on freenode, and that’s fine for Fedora’s community, but not for Ubuntu’s.

I think Ubuntu should move to yearly releases.  The longer beta period would allow more people to feel comfortable testing and there wouldn’t be so many problems right at release.  Yes, the new features generate a great buzz, but the problems generate just as much negative buzz.  One problem is worth 10 good reviews (maybe more…I just pulled that number out of my ass).

The one major problem I see with this is that the power users may move away, and if that happens, who is going to push the community and evangelize.  Maybe Ubuntu needs to work on a better backport system, or push information about it.  I don’t really know how backports work.  I don’t like waiting for a new Firefox version…certainly not for a year.  Maybe PPAs are the answer, because clearly power users can handle PPAs, and other than knowing where to go to get them, it’s not hard for n00bs either.

I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t know as much about the Ubuntu community as many, especially since I’ve spent so much time with Fedora, so I’d love to hear some reasons why yearly might not work.  I’m not sure who in the Ubuntu community/Canonical has the power to make such a decision, but if someone with Jono’s eyes could point him to this post, I’d love to hear his reaction to it.  I’m sure he listens to Ubuntu-UK and heard their thoughts on it.  The year of the Linux desktop is approaching.  Let’s not let our geeky need for new toys get in the way.

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