A reader has asked us here in FromLinux let's talk about the Distributions Rolling Release, what are its advantages and disadvantages, so here is this article to talk a little about the subject.
Imagine a rubber on a car that as it progresses, instead of wearing out, it improves and strengthens the rubber without having to be changed for any reason. Now let's replace the car rubber with a GNU / Linux distribution and rubber for its packages.
To understand a little what the Rolling Release, let's take as an example Ubuntu (which obviously does not have this feature). Ubuntu has a release of new versions every 6 months. This is what is called a distribution Point Release, where packages are released from time to time.
In that period of time, there is a marathon update of new packages for the later version, and therefore we can present three problems:
- We have to change the repositories every 6 months.
- Installing or updating on the version already installed can cause errors or present problems.
- Packages from the previous version are quickly becoming outdated.
It is because of that it is always recommended to do a clean installation, from scratch, although generally the most affected are users with versionitis syndrome. So what makes a distro Rolling Release?
Let's take Archlinux as an example. A user installs Archlinux for the first time and you will not need to reinstall unless you have a very serious system problem. Once you install all the packages you need, as they are updated with new versions, you will only have to update them from the repositories, including system packages such as Kernel.
Summing up with a simple example. In Ubuntu if you use Gnome2 with Natty, you would have to install Oneric (the later version) to be able to use Gnome3. In Archlinux, if you installed it using Gnome2, just by updating (whenever available clear) you can install Gnome3 without reinstalling the system and that is what we call Rolling Release, that is, a distribution that releases software updates on the spot.
- You will always have the latest packages available.
- No need to reinstall Operating system to have the new packages.
- If any package has a Bug, the faster it is corrected, the faster you can install it with the solution.
- Having the latest software can present incompatible dependency problems or errors (although this is usually rare).
- If the distribution does not release updates followed by the .iso installation, we would have to update a greater number of packages.
Example of distributions Rolling Release sound Gentoo, Arch, Kahel OS, Chakra, Sabayon, Foresight Linux. And some reader may wonder And LMDE not Rolling Release?
With LMDE a very curious thing happens. This distribution is based on Debian Testing that although it seems to have an effect Rolling, Actually, it is not. To understand this a bit, let's look at the sources.list line for Debian Testing:
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian wheezy main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
Both currently work for the branch Testing de Debian. The problem is that, if we use the first one, when Wheezy become stable, we would no longer be using Testing. However, if we use the second, we will always be using the version Testing shift.
The effect of Rolling is Debian Testing for the simple fact that packages are updated every day, and whenever we use Testing we do not have to reinstall the system. But the difference is that, Debian Testing only update the latest packages that are added in the repositories of this branch, which do not necessarily have to be in the latest version released by its developer.
Let's take as an example again Gnome. In Debian Testing packets of Gnome 3.0 y Gnome 3.2, but separately, not the Desktop Environment full. Maybe if the Sid branch is used, the effect Rolling be a little better, but it is not recommended. But let's go back to LMDE which has new official repositories, and depending on the one we use, we will have the feeling that it is Rolling o no.
Anyway, I hope I have clarified a little on the subject. However, if you think I am missing something, or that I am in error, leave your comment 😀