Do distros release too often?

bigtuxWelcome to what I am going to call (in my sad head) blogging wednesday. Now, wednesday is the day when I get most time to study. Which means that I also have most time to take breaks. And in those breaks, I am going to be blogging. Because I don’t blog enough, and my “To-blog” list has been mounting up for a while. But anyways, on with the blog.

I was listening to an episode of TuxRadar (a podcast from the great guys at Linux Format magazine) the other week. And every week they have an “open ballot” where they put out to the people on their website, what they think on a particular topic. That particular episode had the ballot title “Do distros release too often?”

Obviously, this was in reference to distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora, who release every 6 months. And some of the thoughts were that 6 months isn’t long enough to make big changes. But then, some other thoughts were that longer releases then end up with older software.

Lets take Ubuntu and Oo.o for example. Oo.o 3.0 came out at the end of last year, I think. And the problem was that 8.10 had just been released with 2.4, or whatever the release was before that. And a distro is not going to make such a huge change to a distribution when they are releasing in another 6 months. So, this meant that people were either stuck without Oo.o 3.0, or they built it from source or installed about 30 .deb packages.

So, we have 2 sides – it is too long or it is not too long. Now, the problem we have is that businesses don’t want the newest software all the time. Some things are good, but its not necessary. However, you have people who are like me and are obsessed with getting the newest software asap. I mean, I use firefox 3.6 and thunderbird 3.0 on Ubuntu 9.10 for goodness sake.

So…as most of you will know, Ubuntu adopted what they call the “LTS” releases. These are releases that happen every 4 releases (give or take). And the difference between these and normal releases are the fact that they are built to be rock solid, they are supported for longer on both desktop and server. And this is great. It means businesses can update every 2 years, get the newest software, get a really stable system, and have it supported for a long time. What business wants to upgrade all their computers every 6 months? Not many.

However, I don’t think that Ubuntu put enough emphasis on LTS versions. I think most general people should use LTS releases, unless they really want the newest version of “x”. So, my question is this – “Should Ubuntu put emphasis on the LTS releases being the stable release, and everything else is for people with a reasonable understanding of computers?”

The other thing that was bounced around was rolling releases. The idea was that rolling releases could happen with Ubuntu, and then every 2 years, they take a snapshot, make sure there are no bugs, and then release it as an LTS. This would encourage people to use the LTS, but would also allow geeks to use the newest stuff all the time.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I wonder what people think? I do think that 6 months is not too short. At all.