User Experiences with System Updates (Fedora)

There has been a lot of discussion about the direction of Fedora, apparently brought on in part by massive updates being pushed to recent Fedora users. I’ve not used Fedora for a long time – for various reasons – but this is good discussion.

Máirín Duffy has a fantastic article (it is a must read!) describing possible user profiles for Fedora Linux, as well as a description of how updates should be done. One thing she mentions that I haven’t seen in Linux before is the idea of an “update bundle”.

Bundled updates are done in many UNIX environments, including HP-UX and Solaris. In my experience with HP-UX, all of the updates are available separately, but there are also patch bundles that are put through strenuous QA together. With all of the patches run through QA as well as the bundle, this leads to better stability for the environment.

Also in HP-UX, each patch is posted with a “patch readiness level” that explains what amount of QA the patch has actually seen so far. Thus, you can load that patch early if you want, or wait until its rating (given in a star rating) rises, indicating less likelihood that the patch will break the system.

Most Linux systems are run through QA as a system, with each package being tested and sent through QA individually.

With all of the discussion that I read, it seems almost like a new spin or distribution is almost necessary which would capture the essence of Fedora with the stability found in Debian Stable or Ubuntu LTS. The camps seem to be split between two sorts of people:

  • People who want the latest versions of everything all the time, no matter how many updates are needed.
  • People who want a system that is stable and doesn’t change.

If the current leadership is unwilling to accommodate those that want stability and reliability, then they will go somewhere else to find it. This would be a dramatic loss to the Fedora community in my opinion.

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