[cut-team] "Snapshot releases" or "rolling"?

Henry Jensen hjensen at gmx.de
Sat Aug 27 12:49:03 UTC 2011


I use Debian for many years now, and I was thrilled when I first heard
about CUT.

I would like to share some thoughts from my perspective as an Debian
user. As you know, for a desktop distro stable becomes somewhat
outdated after some time. I think this is the main reason why there is
a high demand for CUT.

But a "rolling release" nature can be an disadvantage as well. Not 
only that one have to download constantly new packages, which is time-
and bandwith-consuming, there is also a constant risk of introducing
new bugs with every package upgrade. Additionally one may wish to
upgrade only when it's pretty safe to upgrade, i. e. when a new version
has been tested and most rough edges are smoothened. For example, one
uses foo 1.2.3, then foo 1.4.0 is released, but one may wish to upgrade
not before foo 1.4.1. There is the dilemma. A true "rolling" distro
introduces foo 1.4.0 as soon as it is released, which may be too early
for many users. The "stable" distro has still foo 1.0.23, which may be
too old for most users.

It is my experience that many users want current software, but not
"bleeding edge".

So, where is the way out of this? It would be to release some kind of
"frozen testing" or "minimal ans short term stable", let's say every 6
month. Many other distros are using this 6-month-cycle and I think it
work's pretty well.

You may ask, "why don't you use then one of this 6-month-cycle
distros?". The answer is simple: They are not Debian. I like Debian
because it is a good compromise between user friendliness and the KISS
principle. I like Debian because it has a social contract and it
follows the DFSG. And I like Debian because of its universality. If
you look at other distros you see that they lack one or more of this
points. For example they think their users are stupid, or they give a
damn about free software and introduce proprietary software in their

There is already a "rolling" Debian based distro called
"aptosid" (formerly "sidux"), which follows the Debian path pretty
well, but there is no comparable "short term stable" distro which I
know of.

So, my proposal would be to do a "snapshot" of testing every 6 month,
test and fix and run minimal QA procedures on it for one month or two,
and then release it. This "short term stable" or "frozen testing"
should be supported until the next release occurs. Of course, this would
mean, that some kind of security procedures must be established and
followed. To minimize the effort, upgrades from the current testing
could be introduced if (and only if) security issues or severe bugs are
fixed. The default policy should be too keep the packages at their
versions as it was at the time of release.

I think this would meet many users needs.



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