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Ubuntu Looking Again At Rolling Release Model

Ubuntu

Published on 28 February 2013 11:48 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu
32 Comments

Canonical developers are again taking a serious look at moving Ubuntu over to a rolling-release model. Under this form, there would be the Ubuntu Long-Term Support (LTS) releases every two years but between that new packages would be pushed out on a rolling-release basis.

For years there has been talk about turning Ubuntu into a rolling-release distribution, but previously nothing has materialized beyond some mailing list discussions. There's also been discussions of Ubuntu on a monthly release cycle, but again, it's been mostly all talk.

In January was more serious talk about Ubuntu moving to a rolling release model. Leann Ogasawara, the Kernel Team Manager at Canonical, talked about moving to a rolling release model for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. She said it was "in the cards of possibly happening." It would involve eliminating the interim releases and only putting out the Ubuntu LTS release builds every two years. New packages would be pushed out after they are released and have cleared QA.

Now today on the Ubuntu developers' mailing list, Rick Spencer of Canonical is again talking again seriously about Ubuntu as a rolling release. His reasoning for Ubuntu as a rolling-release model seems mostly about conserving resources. Canonical is investing a lot into the mobile space -- and to some extent betting their future on it -- and by getting rid of these non-LTS interim releases, they can focus more on their mobile efforts.

Rick began his mailing list message with, "Ubuntu has an amazing opportunity in the next 7-8 months to deliver a Phone OS that will be widely adopted by users and industry while also putting into place the foundation for a truly converged OS. To succeed at this we will need both velocity and agility. Therefore, I am starting a discussion about dropping non-LTS releases and move to a rolling release plus LTS releases right now."

By eliminating the non-LTS resources the load of Canonical employees would be lightened as they don't need to support multiple interim releases simultaneously, don't need to worry about releasing every six months, etc. Canonical's paying customers also really only care about LTS releases. It's also acknowledged that some features currently introduced on the Ubuntu six month cycle are less than baked.

Rick even proposes that Ubuntu immediately changes its release model. "In the meantime, with Ubuntu Touch, the Phone, the Tablet, and convergence of these device experiences with the Desktop, we are in the process of inventing what is essentially a next generation Ubuntu. There will be lots of new code written and code integrated from new sources to accomplish this. The 13.04 Desktop would not have any of this new code, and therefore will be "old" before it is even released. Therefore, I think we should keep LTS releases, but tarting now, stop doing interim releases and start a rolling release."

Aside from daily development snapshots, Canonical would be putting out monthly snapshots of the development release that they would support until the next month's release is available.

It seems that this monthly cadence with a rolling release might really take off this time and does have the backing of several Canonical developers. Read more in this mailing list post

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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