Debian May Begin Rolling Release Branch

by Susan Linton - May. 03, 2011Comments (3)

DebianA discussion has begun in the quiet corner of Debian testing about offering a rolling release branch in addition to its current line-up. Well, sort of. Lucas Nussbaum has posted details of the intriguing discussion on his blog.

Nussbaum recognizes that rolling releases are quite popular and offers the numbers of those using Debian testing and the growing popularity of Arch Linux as evidence. Some others may remember PCLinuxOS as well. He states that many users find the software in stable Debian perhaps a bit too stale or old. So a rolling release could be possible with little extra effort based on the testing branch.

A rolling release would probably attract users that think testing is only a developmental branch but want newer software than found in stable. Since those users might be more advanced, they might also contribute bug reports and such. Nussbaum also hopes this might quicken Debian and bring back some of attention currently being enjoyed by derivatives.

Technically, a rolling release wouldn't fundamental change much in the developmental process since it will essentially be the testing branch. In fact, Raphael Hertzog goes as far as to say that the rolling branch would just be testing renamed. This has brought some criticism by those who say this effort is just PR, but Nussbaum argues that new users and more developer focus on testing/rolling would make for more stable and usable early packages - which would lead to more efficient and expedited stable releases.

There are several issues being explored as well as philosophical differences being discussed. A poll was started to gauge user interest, but was soon "vandalized" and closed. Even with just the few respondents, those in favor of a rolling release branch were clearly ahead.

Alternatives were also discussed such as PPAs (personal package archive, or extra packages) for Debian, allowing developer changes during freezes, shorter freeze durations, and setting up a real rolling release branch separate from testing. In reading the comments, a separate rolling release branch seems favored, although Nussbaum is leaning toward having the testing/rolling branch freeze for three months before forking it off and unfreezing it.

See Nussbaum's post for lots more detail.

Mark Hinkle uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Rolling release so that Ubuntu can make better make use of Debian's effort again?

I've been using testing since it is Lenny. Till now everything's fine.

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"Rolling release so that Ubuntu can make better make use of Debian's effort again?"

Nope, more like so Ubuntu doesn't kidnap Debian's talent, and cover it with shoddy inventions like Unity and rushed software.

I would love to have a Debian that kind of refreshes every ~6 months packages like Pidgin/Firefox/Thunderbird, New Kernel, Drivers... Ubuntu without rubbish nor rush to release, release when its ready, but not having to run an outdated desktop after a year.

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As a PCLinuxOS user for almost 5 years I have the advantage of having a great rolling release where I can enjoy a tested, stable update within a very short time after it is released. KDE 4.6.3 came out, we had it in our updates a day or two later. Chrome gets an update, we get it a day after release. It's not magic, it's a great developer team. Some core stuff takes more time though. But it's released when it's ready, not on a schedule and never before a thorough thrashing by the devs. Long live Texstar!

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