Ubuntu debates Rolling Release and LTS

Canonical is reviewing Ubuntu’s release cycles for next year. The expectation is to adopt a rolling release for Ubuntu 14.04 onwards. The roadmap is to adopt a Long Term Support version, where updates are released every two years.

This will apparently allow Canonical to address the needs of their commercial users in a more productive and cost-effective manner.

The discussion is on between the development team and the front-end liaison team at Canonical in migrating to a 2 year version release model.

Current release process

As of the current release system, there are regular bi-annual releases and a long term Support release once every 2 years.

This rolling release model requires that between major releases, a Personal Package Archive or PPAs be provided to match the latest developments.

Proposed release cycle

With the new proposal, which could begin as early as Ubuntu 14.04, there would not be any more bi-annual releases and would instead look at only Long Term Support modules and a continuous update model.

Therefore, in the present model, software testing is an ongoing process and major kernel changes, release of X.0rg or changes to the boot system are under review.

The updates would happen only when new upstream versions are available and the software would be continuously tested.

This type of release model is currently in use by Arch Linux.

Debate so far

In the last meeting of the developers at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, the plan was to down-size on development milestones and address development through ‘smoke testing’ and a well-structured quality analysis parameters.

The focus of the debate between continuing with rolling release cycle or long term support cycle is now the stability it brings to the package. While the rolling release offers continuous updates on the work progress, at a fast pace- almost in real time, it renders the entire distribution unstable.

At the opposite end, the long term support cycle would actually take the pressure off kernel developers and provide them with more opportunities and time for quality testing as well as prevent them from attempting to meet very tight development deadlines.

Though, there appears to be no conclusion as of date on whether to adopt the Long Term support cycle or to continue with the rolling release cycle, the discussions allows inference to be drawn that, the Ubuntu 14.04 release will be the deciding release.

With the next release slated for the month of April in 2014, it is a matter of time before developing team and the sponsors arrive at a decision.