Changes are happening very quickly in Ubuntu land. The changes are needed to attain goals of putting out an operating system for a lot platforms - from desktops, smartphones, netbooks to tablets. The current proposal is:
- a shift to rolling release for interim releases (this won't affect ubuntu 13.04 this April 2013)
- continue to release interim releases but support them until the next interim release comes along
- do interim releases once every month
This thing has happened before remember. Chrome browser started the quick pace of development with the browser. Mozilla has to follow the same if they want Firefox to stay relevant. For now Firefox is holding its own. Maybe even outdoing the Chrome team. Have you used Firefox 19.0? Wow.
A rolling release is very much like walking, if you think about it. One throws their body forward in the air (unstable) and moves one foot forward to catch it (stable) before their face hits the ground. Unstable, yes. Gravity will not give you a break. A rolling release is always one software update away from breakage. Mark Shuttleworth is correct to say that a rolling release is no release at all.
Is it fun to use? Hell, yes. I have Ubuntu and Arch linux in a dual boot and I confess I use Arch more because it's fun using it. If the Ubuntu team can pull this rolling release off, hey. You don't give a technical challenge to this guys. You'd lose.
What about regular users? Whenever I recommend Ubuntu, I always point them to the latest Long Term Support release. That's 12.04.02 for now. It would be crazy otherwise.
Continuing interim releases and supporting them would be bleeding resources. A testing repository should be available to automated testers and a testing team.
I'm convinced that Ubuntu can go rolling release. If the developmental version of Ubuntu (raring ringtail) is any indication of how automated testing has improved stability of beta (even alpha) software, then the transition to rolling release should be like putting one's foot forward.
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