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Doubts about Linux rolling releases

September 20, 2023 — BarryK

I have stayed away from rolling releases as I consider them to be inherently unstable, or prone to unexpected side-effects. However, have ventured into playing with Void Linux, see post a couple of days ago:

I even built "easyVoid"; EasyOS built from Void packages, and it works, with some issues. Installed LibreOffice from the Void package repository; works. However, installed Shotcut video editor, and at startup there was a popup window informing that "libjack0" package is missing.

Well, the version of libjack that it wants isn't in the repository. I had to get it from the Debian repo. Then Shotcut worked.

This has reminded me why I don't like rolling releases. Dependency management has to be very rigorous to work properly in a rolling release, and I have just got an indication that it isn't up to scratch in Void Linux. Unless I hit one very rare example.

But other, very serious, problems can occur, that versioned releases avoid. For example, a couple of years ago there was a version bump of the 'pango' package that caused many applications to misbehave. The misbehaviour might only get noticed sometime later, when users complain. A versioned Linux release might not eliminate that particular problem, but will greatly reduce its likelihood of occurrence or the severity.   

Tags: linux