Long Term Support Isn't So Long

2009-10-02 13:27 - Linux

Ubuntu is a bit famous for it's "Long Term Support" releases. That page says that "A new LTS version is released every 2 years. With the Long Term Support (LTS) version you get 3 years support on the desktop ..." and "The two LTS releases so far are DapperDrake and HardyHeron." But it also says that they will "Avoid structural changes as far as possible, such as ... lots of library transitions." At Google, my desktop is based on Hardy, which was released on April 24, 2008, or just over a year ago. So it should have received updates now, and for another year and a half or so, right? Wrong.

I've been searching for a Windows replacement for (among other things) Launchy on Windows. The best I found was Gnome Do. After a short while, I tried to work some of its advanced settings. I saw plenty of documentation online about the Preferences dialog — but I couldn't find it anywhere! Well, the reason is that the last version in Hardy's repositories is 0.4.0.1, but that was released back in March of 2008, before Hardy's first release. And it's never been updated. Do is up to version 0.8, with a lot of new features — including the preferences dialog!

I tried upgrading myself. First I looked for all the DEB packages I need (and don't I remember this sort of crap, scouring for RPMs for RedHat back in the day). I didn't get far, resolving the entire dependency tree one at a time, by hand, before I hit on something I couldn't find the DEB for. So I tried building from source, in a similarly frustrating manner. Somehow I found the Badgerports repository, where someone has thankfully taken the effort to port modern packages into the "Supported" version of Ubuntu I'm stuck with. After adding that repository, I could actually install a non-ancient, featureful, version of Gnome Do!

(I'm still not quite satisfied with it as a Launchy replacement, it's harder to customize. But it's pretty good. I miss being able to just double-click the EXE and get whatever software I want.)

Comments:

DO
2009-10-03 13:59 - BUGabundo

thats because you got it wrong. Support means critical FIXES and security updates. Stable Releases dont see their apps gain new features. Ubuntu is NOT a rolling release.

About Gnome-DO, you can you their team PPA and have all the features available for your version https://launchpad.net/~do-core/+archive/ppa

True, but ...
2009-10-05 11:42 - arantius

While your statements may technically be true, it still seems weaslly. I could be running Windows XP (released in 2001, just a few weeks shy of 8 years ago) and installing the latest version of any Windows program I want. But with a version of Ubuntu only a year and a half old, I'm already stuck. I can't install the programs I want to run unless I go to a lot of strange effort (already, I've found myself running out-of-date versions of Do, Firefox, and VLC). As a regular end user, whatever "support" means, it feels like it's advertised that it will work for five years, but the effect is that it does not "work" in so far as it satisfies my requirements.

Also, that PPA does me no good. It advertises up to 0.6 for Hardy (I think? Based on the file names) which is still a year out of date. Plus I'm pretty sure I tried that, first, and couldn't even get 0.6 from it.

Ultimately, without upgrading all the time (an option I don't have at work) installing software onto Ubuntu is a PITA.

Stable release
2009-10-06 10:05 - BUGabundo

You have to understand how a Stable release work... Can you imagine a sys admin of a large deploy having users with many diff versions of installed apps? or those that provide remote support to users, expecting versions that were available on release date, and not others!

The release is meant to allow to keep the system stable with a set of apps and dependencies tested before release date. Adding an PPA aint that much work, and has been made very easy on Karmic. Still it should put some barrier on users to avoid insane setups.

You are right on DO, and I'm sorry for providing the info without 1st making sure it would work on your setup. It seems a gnome dependency is required for newer versions, not available on hardy, leaving your with 0.6.

As with every distro, no distribution is meant for everyone. Ubuntu is aimed at regular users, and tries to provide a good experience to those, and many leave happily with the apps provided to them.

Running older releases (specially LTS) will always make it hard to get newer apps (or better newer Features), requiring users that demand those, to upgrade to a newer release. Dont you do the same with your House or Car?

My point still stands
2009-10-06 10:12 - arantius

This series of articles is about my experience with switching from Windows to Ubuntu, and enumerating the painful issues I encounter. As a user, I find it very inconvenient to be "locked out" of upgrading my software, without also upgrading the operating system. Like I said, the same version of Windows XP from 2001 will run the newest version of Firefox, of VLC, of — well, anything I would like to run. Switching to Ubuntu and finding that is not the case is something that feels arbitrary, and inconvenient.

This doesn't lessen the importance "support" angle from an enterprise perspective, I agree, but plenty of enterprises run Windows desktops and do OK that way. I don't see why my company's IT department should care whether I'm running Gnome Do version 0.4 or 0.8. If it's because Linux/Ubuntu is set up in such a way that I am forced to use shared libraries, and different versions of them (or their dependencies!) are incompatible, and I can't run X software without Y library installed, that's a failing of Linux/Ubuntu, from my perspective. The fact that it is set up in such a way that installing very non-central software (a launcher?) can cause major problems elsewhere (administration of the whole machine?) is a problem. On Windows, I just run the .EXE installer, and get on with what I really want to do, with rare exceptions. (Dot Net? Ugh.)

Backports
2009-10-06 10:43 - ModplanMan

Have you tried the official backports repository?

Also, you are not locked out. LTS releases are based on the assumption that a company wants stability over new features. During the course of the 3 year support, updates will only be for bugs, not adding new features and the like. Because of the added compliation of dependencies as well as the progam in itself, the general policy to me at least, seems like it's one that works, but it's one that works in aiming at people and companies who specifically don't want constant updates and new features, as they provide more instability.

Also, gnome-do is not supported by Canonical itself. gnome-do is software provided by the wider community. Updates will generally be more unreliable (which in this case, has obviosuly been true), alonsgide the fact that that the more recent version of gnome do has dependencies on some more fundamental parts of the Ubuntu desktop. This is no different than a program that works in Windows 2000 but not XP. The only difference is that the difference in release dates, and software providers explicitly focusing on companies needs will support older releases for longer. This is not true of in gnome-do's case. Gnome-do is not necessary in the running of a company, it is not necessarily essential productivity software. Ergo, it is in the Universe repository, alongside the fact it is dependant on more recent tools.

The end user, I want the latest type release are the ordinary, every 6 month releases. Critical company wide releases that require much more stability, not the very latest or the newest features, are going to be LTS.

Quoted from add/remove: Canonical does not provide updates for GNOME Do. Some updates may be provided by the Ubuntu community.

Also, you are using one very particualr piece of software is if it is representative of all cases - it isn't.

PPAs
2009-10-06 11:53 - BUGabundo

here is some help from the community: http://identi.ca/notice/11452910

Thanks, but...
2009-10-06 12:17 - arantius

Thanks for the effort! It's nice to know that it's possible to work around the limitations I've found. Perhaps I should re-word myself.

As an end user, "long term support" seems, at first, to mean that I will be able to use this system, for the long term. You've stated, and I understand the reasoning behind the fact, that this is geared towards the enterprise use case. The LTS page (linked in my original article) says though, "That means you'll always have the latest and greatest applications that the open source world has to offer." Although this page is about LTS, this statement apparently refers to something else (I don't know what the every-six-month releases are called). As a user that doesn't already know all the details of how Ubuntu operates and what their terms mean, this particular point confused me (not that I am necessarily still confused), and let me down.

More missing software!
2009-10-26 10:16 - arantius

Long story short, same situation: The open source Calibre software works fine on Windows XP, but won't run on Ubuntu Hardy -- it requires dependencies which haven't been updated on Hardy, at least python-lmxl (2.0.5 where 1.3.6 is newest on Hardy). I'm a strong dis-believer in binary-package-based software distribution. I strongly prefer either the Windows method (download a .EXE, run it, and your software is installed) or the Gentoo method (install everything from source, whatever version you want, always built against your installed libraries). But not this binary-package-dependencies-not-available stuff.

My oh my, aren't we moaning like an old woman.
2009-10-29 08:43 - monkinsane

You say with windows you can install any app version you want. True, BUT THE APP IS A SEPERATE DOWNLOAD! You don't see adobe Reader as part of the MS Updates, do you?

The apps provided with the Ubuntu Repository are there for convenience sake. They ARE NOT part of the OS and therefore NOT part of the support. You cannot honestly expect the Developers of UBUNTU to provide support for the 3rd party apps they provide in their repository. Those apps are there to make your life easier, to offer a bit of convenience.

If you are unhappy about so many aspects of Linux, STOP USING IT! Instead of B#$CHING about it!

Bad analogy
2011-07-29 01:13 - stb

If the new version of an application decides to depend on newer core libraries then you can't blame the OS support. Your statement that this wouldn't happen on Windows is simply untrue; if the application were released for only Windows 7 you would have the same problem. You can static compile the app yourself on Linux, unlikely on Windows.

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