Ubuntu will not be switching to a ‘Rolling Release’ model anytime soon, despite recent reports to the contrary.

But Ubuntu’s Jono Bacon has revealed that pieces are being put into place‘ to allow such a decision to be made at a later date.


rolling-iconA rolling release model would see Ubuntu continually updated with new apps and features as it ‘rolled’ along rather than, as is the case at present, them only arriving in one go every 6 months.

Such a change would also mean fewer releases, or so says Leann Ogasawara of the Ubuntu Kernel Team.

In a video Q&A session earlier this week she suggestion that, should Ubuntu switch to a rolling release in the future, ‘interim releases’ would be ditched. Instead, Ubuntu would “roll” between Long Term Support versions, currently released once every two years.

This isn’t a new revelation. In an interview with us last summer Leann spoke of it:

“We’re also trying to lay some ground work to support the idea of a rolling release model for the kernel beginning with the 14.04 LTS release.”

How Ubuntu Currently Works

‘Our [current] release process is very complicated…’

So that’s what a rolling release is – but how does it differ to how Ubuntu works today?

Ubuntu development currently happens to a set schedule: there are two releases a year, one every six months.

This reliable schedule gives developers a backdrop against which they can accurately plan features, updates and so on.

But a ‘long game’ is also in action.

‘Some areas we want to improve take longer than six months,’ Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon explained in a video Q&A earlier this week, ‘So what we tend to do then is think in LTS’s’.

LTS releases are made once every 2 years and are typically backed by 3-5 years of security and bug fix updates.

But as focus has fallen to improving not only the quality of Ubuntu but that of the underlying engineering and maintenance processes a new approach, that of the Rolling Release, has been under discussion.

Delivering apps is complex and hard; the way our archives are laid out doesn’t make a huge amount of sense; and another element is that our release process is very complicated,’ Jono explains.

‘That impacts our flavours (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, etc). They should be able to have control over their own destiny.’

“One of the overriding things that we want to improve going forward is ‘Daily Quality’,‘ he adds.

“In the old days of Ubuntu the development release was a little shaky. We wanted to prevent against that happening; the development release of Ubuntu should be rock solid. It should feel stable. So the general goal has been ‘How can we keep the general development version of Ubuntu moving along, but continue to maintain the quality?’. That’s when the topic of rolling release comes up.”

Not Happening Yet

A Rolling Release is the right step for us to make…

The good/bad news (depending on your viewpoint) is that Ubuntu is not switching to a Rolling Release model yet.

In fact, Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon goes as far as to say that ‘it would be a disaster’ should it happen right now!

But he does concede that switching to it at some point in the future is ‘the right step forward for us [Ubuntu] to make.’

“What we’ve done is identify all the work we need to do for 14.04… [and] to put together all the pieces we need, so that we can decide in at a later date’.

Would you like to see Ubuntu switch to a rolling release model? Or are you happy with the way Ubuntu currently works? Let us know in the comments.

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