Fedora Considers Dropping Delta RPMs

Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 23 February 2023 at 06:38 PM EST. 46 Comments
For many years now there has been delta RPM support built into Fedora to allow just downloading the binary difference between the currently installed RPM package and the updated version. While this made sense during the days of limited Internet connectivity/bandwidth, delta RPMs haven't proven useful in years and now Fedora Linux is considering removing this support.

Delta RPMs made sense a long time ago when Internet connections were much slower and more common for users to be on a metered connection, but in more recent years the concept hasn't proven useful. Plus those with more common Internet speeds these days and modern hardware likely would find it takes longer to reconstruct a complete RPM from a delta RPM than it would be to just download the entire fresh RPM package for the updated software. The value of DRPMs these days appears minimal while carrying infrastructure/hosting costs.

Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller raised the proposal this week around dropping delta RPMs. In addition to the limited direct benefits these days, given newer technologies around OSTree and container deltas, he is of the camp that it's time to "give DeltaRPMs a sad, fond farewell."

Enabling delta RPMs with DNF

This Fedora devel thread is where the latest discussions around potentially dropping delta RPMs is taking place. Most seem to be in agreement that it's time to phase out delta RPMs for a variety of reasons.

Given the Fedora 38 release is quickly approaching and already past the change completion deadline, dropping delta RPMs is likely something that would be pursued for Fedora 39 or later. Though some have raised the point it could be gradually rolled out via infrastructure changes. In any event besides this active mailing list discussion it still needs to face voting eventually by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) once a formal proposal has been drafted.
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