Rolling or fixed release

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to ask, if you prefer a rolling or a fixed release distro and why.
If you’re using rolling release as a daily driver, how do you manage to keep your system stable?
If you’re using LTS, is it important for you, to have newer versions of certain applications and if so, how do you get them?

For me, I’m currently running Xubuntu 18.04 as I want a certain degree of stability and reliability, but as I’m not a fan of PPA’s, Snaps or Flatpaks and would like to have newer versions of certain applications, I’m also very interested in rolling releases. I would definitely go for a rolling distro, but I’m too afraid of breakages and probably still don’t know enough about Linux, to maintain such a distro correctly.

But anyways, since I can’t get my head around that topic, I would like to know your oppinion and preferences. :slightly_smiling_face:

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It’s an old problem, and argument. My #1 distro is MX, because it’s stable (based on Debian 9 now, next time MX-19 will be based on Debian 10). Some new software gets added to the MX repos as needed or as per users request. It’s safe, stable and does everything I need on a day to day basis.

I mean,

  • how often do I change hardware? so do I need new hardware support? no.

  • does the software I have do everything I need? if yes - then why update, if no - request it on the forums

On the other hand… there’s always the itch to try the latest and greatest versions, even if you don’t need it and a rolling release looks attractive. Some rolling releases seem to be less crashy than others and even stable releases can have their moments.

I solve my dilemma by using both. A stable for my “get stuff done” computer (think corporate or production machines that HAVE to work). A rolling release on my “messing about” computer. I can’t say I don’t sometimes do “getting stuff done” on the “messing about” machine, and sometimes “messing about” on the “getting stuff done” machine, but I do try and have backups and accept the risks (but then I’m retired and not too bothered with irreplaceable data and must meet deadlines.

Getting stuff done distro -

  • MX-18 and

  • Peppermin 9 (sitting there because of one game that I’m so far into I don’t want to screw up it’s database).

Messing about distros -

  • Debian 10 (could at a pinch be promote to "getting stuff done as it’s the new stable),

  • ArcoLinux and now

  • EndeavourOS.

Also kicking around because they got onto partitions and I don’t have anything new I want to try to replace them yet -

  • SparkyLinux (now at 6.0 - based on Debian Testing) and

  • Manjaro

I don’t suppose that’s all helpful, but I was killing some time until I finished my mug of tea… sorry

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As @TerryL said, My desktop is a stable machine which is currently Mint 19.2 as I need a PC I can rely on for podcast recording and post production, but I play around with loads of other distros to see what is actively being developed as things progress. I’m currently testing Endeavor OS and recently ran PCLinuxOS and both are well worth the effort.
When I rebuild my Desktop tower later this year I may run a dual boot with Mint and possibly Endeavor or another rolling release.

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It really depends on your needs. If what you’re doing on your computer is vital to your business maybe take it easy and run a very stable release and mess around the least possible amount with the machine as the saying goes don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!

If nothing is really life threatening on your machine then run whatever you want to try.
Just back up your data properly and then have at it and learn how to maintain a rolling release without losing too much when it breaks on you.

I just can’t help it I need to tweak and play around with the latest and greatest, so I usually run rolling release and after some mishaps I found the back-up set-up that works for me so that whenever I go to far I can easily start afresh without losing anything : NAS + cronjob + 10GB link + appimages fast and easy.

I run Void on my work laptop / Manjaro on my workstation / Pop_OS 19.04 on my gaming machine / ubuntu 19.04 on my mediapc

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I have Arch-based distros on pretty much everything except one machine that might be reinstalled with something else now and then. One have tumbleweed.
I have no reason to not use it. It’s up to date and I haven’t really had any issues with it. The software I got is available without flatpacks/snaps/whatever and updating is fast.

Also have two machines for FreeNAS and pfSense as I have no desire to manage everything (especially the base OS) for that purpose but I’d def have them on a stable distro if that was the case.

I actually started using Arch right after I put everything on Linux cause I got fed up with trying to find guides and answers for versions of ubuntu and debian. When new to Linux you kind of don’t know what to change and/or move around anyway so it was easier to just use the Arch wiki. That was 5+ years ago though so I’m sure it’s better now.

If a friend ask, then I tell them to run Mint, Ubuntu or whatever.

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There is a huge misuse of the word “stable”. You’re using “fixed” which is a much better way of saying it.
All the main rolling distros are stable: Tumbleweed, Solus, Manjaro, even pure Arch.
There ARE unstable rolling releases. Siduction is one, built on top of Debian Sid.

…Anyway: I am definitely a Rolling person. I have never felt a benefit with a fixed or leaping release; outdated packages, having to wait months for a crucial DE update (like say Gnome 3.32) plus for me, at least, it seems leaping distros always break at upgrade. There is (several) wise men who have said “Never upgrade Fedora until two weeks after release, because it always breaks before patching”. And that goes, in my experience, for all of them with the possible exception of Suse, which seems almost unnaturally stable.

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This is why I recently upgrade my SSD to a 1 GB TB model so I can have dozens of VMs for testing and playing around. I agree that it isn’t exactly the same as installing on real hardware but it lets me quickly try things with zero consequences.

I also follow @TerryL approach and dual boot distros. I don’t always have a fixed and a rolling release installed but I keep one install as my “main” that is stable and has all the tools I need to get real work done while the other is mostly for testing and can be wiped whenever I feel the urge.

To me, distros have become a matter of what runs best on my hardware. Between flatpaks and appimages I can get all the software I need on any distro so the package repos are less important than they used to be.

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I completely agree with this. I find I am able to break an LTS release just as easily as a rolling release. The one caveat I will add is that I think it’s always a good idea to read the news, blog posts, mailing lists, forum and whatever other source there is for new information before updating. It’s an extra step but if you take 5 minutes to check these sources you can avoid almost all update issues.

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I agree. But I also find that if a rolling release breaks I only have to figure out which out of 10 packages that did it (in the unlikely event there is nothing on it on the net already after few minutes). If something breaks after a fedora upgrade there might be 600 packages to look at.

Edit: also timeshift and the package cache is your friends…

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On my Thinkpad X230 I have a 1TB SSD, with 4 partitions, so I can do distro comparisons on the exact same hardware… well, that was the theory, but not a lot of comparison testing gets done, I just keep my top 4 distros on it and unless I need/want a particular one, I pick one at random. I should have partitioned the drive into 6 and then just roll a die…

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May I ask where you found an SSD with such powerful storage capacities? Are you running many DOS VMs? :heart_eyes_cat:

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Genetic mutation, a Thymine got swapped for Guanine…

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Probably made by Weyland Corp then.

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One day, Wayland WILL Work… for everyone, One day

(not holding my breath)

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I personaly prefer rolling

Ha! That shows you how old I am. TB still seem weird. :upside_down_face:

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I generally prefer fixed release with a frequent cycle - 6 months and no more than 1 year.
However I make an exception for one rolling release and that’s OpenSUSE Tumbleweed. That doesn’t really roll in the traditional Arch way, it’s more a case of very frequent fixed releases, sometimes several per week. All extensively tested through Open QA to give good distro stability.

I’ve tun TW now for 8 months without any issues, so I’m a convert. I run it, update it and never worry.
But if TW went away I’d go back to fixed releases as i’m not happy with any of the other rolling models.

Incidentally exactly like Manjaro.

I like playing around in VMs as well but it’s more just for having a look around get an idea of what a distro is about or for particular use like I’ve got a “google vm” bcause I have one app or 2 that only works with chrome and there’s no way I install that app on my main machine so I just run them in an off line VM.

I stopped dual booting because when I’m set on trying a new distro baremetal I’m just gonna use it exclusively for a certain time and never boot in the other OS, I tried it for a while but it’s not for me.

That’s why I invested in a very nice and fast NAS set up that allows me to not worry about my files or appimages, everything is on my nas and I just mount the drive in my home dir, drop my .config in and I’m good to go.

I really liked Arch but I got tired of constantly doing updates. When I switched to Manjaro I thought Pamac was broken because I didn’t see any new updates for a whole week.

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