Ubuntu - A Rolling Linux Distribution ?

March 08, 2013
Will Ubuntu switch to a rolling release ? This is the big question that is playing in the minds of Ubuntu users and developers alike.

A rolling release model refers to a continually developing software system. In a rolling release, the user will never have to install a new version of the software. Rather, the updates to the software and the system will be pushed to the user as and when the changes are made.

An example of a Linux distribution that conform to a rolling release is Arch Linux.

Mark Shuttleworth - the founder of Ubuntu - says he is not convinced about rolling releases yet though he is keeping an open mind.

He went on to elaborate on the direction he wishes for Ubuntu in his blog post. Some noteworthy views he aired are as follows.

  • Canonical is still undecided on whether to make Ubuntu a rolling release Linux distribution. LTS point release mechanism has been quite successful for Ubuntu and Mark feels this is the way to go when targeting end users. "Rolling releases are not real releases" - says Mark Shuttleworth.
  • The real cost of supporting an architecture is way outside the scope of Ubuntu’s non-commercial commitments. Hence Ubuntu support for fringe architectures such as PowerPC may not happen. PowerPC was an officially supported architecture for Ubuntu between versions 4.10 and 6.10. From 7.04 onwards it is a community supported port. 
  • The vision that Mark Shuttleworth holds is for Ubuntu to  run on a wide range of consumer devices - not just computers. This includes phones, tablets, PCs and other devices. The idea is for Ubuntu to be a viable alternative and a competitor to the big shots - Android, Chrome, Windows and Apple. This is the goal of the Unity desktop.
  •  Put succinctly, he "doesn't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a free and open platform that is THE LEADER across both consumer and enterprise computing".