Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

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Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2018-01-31 22:35

Or, my review of Debian Stable GNU/Linux.

Preface (skip this if you came for the review only, but it‘s relevant):
So, I had this thing going for a while. I would read, watch and listen about this or that Linux distro featured on Distrowatch. I would get excited over it and decide to try it. No big problem for me since I have all that I need backed up. Classic case of distrohopping (a terrible, terrible thing). I was on Testing for a short while. Then I went up to Sid. Then a bit of Ubuntu, and after all that back to Windows 10. On Windows 10, you guessed it, I read a lot about Linux.
And then I installed Solus. I heard every single good thing about that distro. It felt more like polished Windows 10 without adds with it‘s Budgie DE. Well, Solus lasted for about a day. Reason? Even though drivers for my Broadcom card are there, they didn‘t work. I mean, the whole point of laptops is in Wi-Fi, so if a card doesn‘t support the OS (or the other way around, as you prefer), then that OS is useless. Solus was supposed to be solid rolling release OS. It wasn‘t for me.
Why all this ranting at the beginning? Because people get burned by hopes of running a rolling release distro all the time. On Arch, my woes could have been worse. Maybe my laptop would not even boot. An application wouldn‘t start, etc. This is not how you design an OS, and I‘ll explain this.

Every successful OS has a solid, stable base that gets changed maybe once in a blue moon. That which will change frequently are user-space programs. Windows had that for a while and decided to throw that golden design in the recycle bin. MacOS has it too, but Apple does the change more often. This is the right design. You don‘t break user-space by introducing core functionality-breaking change to the OS. And that is exactly what rolling release distros do, all the time.
So, Wheeler, what‘s your idea of an ideal OS, you ask? Let me tell you.

Review of Debian Stable:
Debian is the firs distro I came to love. Not just because it saved me from Windows XP EOL disaster. It‘s because it made me learn a lot more about Linux in general. I will first say that Debian is my distro of choice. Why?
1. It is the most tested .deb based OS on the Linux scene. It realeses „when ready“.
2. It is non-changing, so it is expected to work the same all the time.
3. It has great, dedicated security team. The only other distro with such pro-grade support is RHEL.
4. It‘s an independent, global project.
5. It‘s endorsing true software freedom, but at the same time gives choice to people who need non-free software.
6. Did I mention it gives you choice? GNOME is the default, but you can choose whatever DE you like.

Debian is the base of many distros, including Ubuntu. It‘s official release is designed for stability. What this means is that you can expect your PC to behave exactly the same as it did on the release day. It will have „frozen“ versions of programs. That doesn‘t mean Debian isn‘t distributing newer versions of software. Check out backports repository, or you can build your own package from source.
Current Debian Stable is Stretch. Even though Stretch had some problems in it‘s initial release, most of those problems have been ironed out. It is a solid, enterprise grade OS that you will setup and forget about. What more can you want?
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby stevepusser » 2018-01-31 23:40

Compiz-reloaded with lots and lots of fire! :twisted:
The MX Linux repositories: Backports galore! If we don't have something, just ask and we'll try--we like challenges. New packages: Flightgear 2018.2.2, 4.19.13 kernel, wine-staging 4.0~rc4, Stellarium 0.18.3, VLC 3.0.5, Midori 7.0
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby steve_v » 2018-02-01 05:49

I'm running both, a fixed release (Devuan) where stability matters, and a rolling release (Artix) where it doesn't. They both have their merits.
I ran Arch (which Artix is a derivative of) for many years, and while there was the occasional breakage, it was never anything I couldn't fix quickly. I wouldn't run it on a server or any machine where uptime is important, but on my desktop it's just fine.
Old software and and no breaking updates, or shiny new shit and the occasional mess to clean up. Take your pick.
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby bw123 » 2018-02-01 06:56

reading this is like listening to a bunch of married guys talk about when they was single.
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby Thorny » 2018-02-01 10:13

bw123 wrote:reading this is like listening to a bunch of married guys talk about when they was single.


But intelligent questions have been pretty thin on the ground around here lately so it's fun reading opinions.
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby bdtc1 » 2018-02-01 10:51

Intermediate option: Stable with backports.
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2018-02-01 11:08

stevepusser wrote:Compiz-reloaded with lots and lots of fire! :twisted:

Wakarimasen :mrgreen:
@bw123 Glad you found it amusing. Rant was mostly about Solus, but it applies to all rolling release distros. Sorry it came out as complaint. I simply think LTS distros are much easier to manage, and Debian is the king of LTS distros.
bdtc1 wrote:Stable with backports.

The best combo right now.
I would even say: Stable core (Kernel, mesa and xorg/Wayland, DE) with new versions of programs. Something like KDE Neon, but on a much larger scale.
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby None1975 » 2018-02-01 11:54

Very nice mini review. Good work!
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby debiman » 2018-02-02 14:16

Wheelerof4te wrote:Rant was mostly about Solus, but it applies to all rolling release distros.

i think there's big differences between rolling distros, they don't all follow the same model.

it's really a matter of degrees.

imagine the "most" rolling of all:
- each and every upstream update is immediately packaged and provided for install. users have to expect breakage. it is frankly beyond me how anyone would want to do that, unless they're distro developers themselves or have near 100% knowledge of how their distro works and a deep mistrust in package management.

and the "least rolling":
- upstream updates are tested, necessary adaptations are made, and tested before packaging and providing for install. the only difference to a release distro is that these updates are rolled out continuously, and not held back until the next distro release. it's a pretty stable model.

that's a huge difference, wouldn't you say?
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2018-02-03 11:54

I always use rollers for my desktops — Arch [testing] on my (broken) Haswell laptop, Alpine Linux tracking their edge repositories and OpenBSD-current on my ThinkPad X201.

I really like all the new toys and options and I don't mind re-configuring as I go.

There haven't been any real problems either but I tend to minimise my risk profile by using as little code as I can get away with — dwm, urxvt, KornShell, no networking abstractions, no full desktops or display managers, terminal applications whenever possible.

However, for the family laptop it's Debian stable all the way :)
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby kedaha » 2018-02-03 13:45

Security and stability, which go hand in hand, are essential for a production server. Just imagine offering web and email services using either testing ("buster") or unstable ("sid") as one's operating system! I also think that stable, where security is handled by the Debian Security Team, is the best choice of desktop system for a systems administrator who uses it for remote server administration thereby reducing the possibility of a compromised system to a minimum. A pure stable system with no proprietary, binary-only software is, after all, the objective of the Debian Project, and there are very good reasons for this; hence the enormous amount of preparation which goes into preparing a stable release.

Having said this, to quote Osamu Aoki, the author of The Debian Reference, "The use of testing or unstable is a lot of fun..." but even so, anyone wishing to use it as a quick route to more recent software would do well to read his basic_precautions.

I think that testing or —preferably—unstable or some rolling distro like siduction are good choices for desktop users who have acquired some knowledge of the command line interface and who enjoy using it. It's a good way to learn about Debian and Linux, and new users of development suites may even come to appreciate stable for the outstanding achievement it is. For others who just want a powerful, reliable system for either business or leisure, when administration is limited to occasional updates, then stable is to be recommended.

As for "distro-hopping" my view can be summed up by "do one thing and do it well." I may not always do it well but I know where I stand; I prefer to use one tool for the job so I just stick to Debian though I'm interested in Devuan and Freebsd. Thus I've come to acquire some very useful working knowledge—albeit limited—of software which I use for practical purposes. For instance, for my webserver I only use apache2 and am not considering an alternative like nginx. On my desktop I stick to the mate desktop and would be reluctant to hop to KDE. I'm mindful of the old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." :wink:
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Re: Rant about LTS vs rolling distros

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2018-03-16 15:28

I know this is pretty much a dead thread, but I need to clear the name of Solus here. In my infinite wisdom, I haven't checked if linux-current-headers package was installed before installing Broadcom Wi-Fi driver. True, it should have installed it by default, but still...

Much ado about nothing, I guess. My apologies to Ikey and the team for giving them bad credit.
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