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Ubuntu 13.04 Enables Phased Updates – But What Are They?

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Phased Updates. Not to be confused with Phaser Updates.

Earlier this week ‘Phased Updates’ were enabled for Ubuntu 13.04 – but what are they? 

Worry ye not: we’re here with a quick overview of what this sci-fi-sounding change is and what it will mean to you going forward.

Phased Updates = Protective Buffer

First things first: if you’re using Ubuntu 13.04 then you’re automatically enrolled in the Phased Updates process.

But this isn’t a bad thing.

Phased Updates are just like regular updates, with the only difference being that they are rolled out to users in gradual stages rather than to everyone at the same time. This staggered release approach is designed to improve the stability of Ubuntu.

By drip-feeding Stable Release Updates (SRUs) to a percentage of Ubuntu users at a time, developers have the chance to monitor any regressions or unforeseen bugs introduced by them.

When issues are detected the update process is stopped to ensure that as few users as possible end up with troublesome updates installed.

But, if all is well after a 6 hour period, then another 10% get the updates and the process repeats.

Phased Update Process

  • Updates pushed out to 10% of users
  • If errors reported the update process is stopped
  • If no errors reported, another 10% get updates
  • Repeat

No User Experience Change

What’s important to understand about this ‘change’ is that nothing changes at the user level. Updates are still issued, and will still install as in the past via Software Updater.

All that is changing is that a protective buffer is being put between SRUs and Ubuntu to better ensure stability.

For more information on the phased updates process you can check out developer Brian Murray’s blog post.