JP Vossen on 6 Oct 2010 12:46:49 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] SUSE 10.2 update

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2010 18:30:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Doug Crompton<>

yea I guess. It is ashame because upgrading on a system where you have
lots of stuff running is a big deal and would take lots of time. So many
things would break. I think MS has done it better on this one. I can still
upgrade WinXP for security without breaking anything but a 3 or 4 year old
SUSE release is toast unless you want to upgrade. I know it was basically
free and has so much more capability than MS. That I won't argue with.

Well, I'd suggest that XP is not really a typical example, since they keep trying to kill it but never quite can. Though this says it's more-or-less EoL:

Also, you are forgetting that with Windows, all you get is updates for an OS and a code-base that MS controls. With Linux, you get one-stop-shopping for OS + Apps, all of which are trivially kept up-to-date and configured out-of-the-box to work together (more-or-less), but most of which are controlled elsewhere. So huge amounts of testing, configuration and integration work is already done for you.

This, right here, is a killer reason to use Linux:
$ sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude full-upgrade
$ sudo reboot #### maybe...

Bang. As long as I have stayed within the packaging system, EVERYTHING on the box, the OS and all the apps, is now current.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but sometimes I think we forget just what a huge deal this really is. Sure, lots of Windows apps can auto-update themselves, but that's not the same. And there is also the giant pain of finding a suitable (non-malicious) Windows package in the first place.

I can find, evaluate, install, test and possibly discard a Linux app in minutes, and be virtually certain that it will not contaminate my system while I'm doing it. That's just impossible on Windows.

$ apt-cache search foo | less
$ apt-cache show foo1 foo2 | less
$ sudo aptitude install foo1 foo2
### Go try them out, I like foo2
$ sudo aptitude purge foo1

Or if you like GUIs, use the Ubuntu Software Center (or whatever on Debian, my servers don't have GUIs).

Are all Linux distributions unsupported in this way after 3-4 years or is
this more a SUSE thing? I would probably not install SUSE again but rather
move to a more mainstream flavor like Debian.

The RPM-based distros such as Fedora, RHEL/CentOS and Suse suffer from this end-of-life problem much more than the APT/.deb (Advanced Package Tool) distros like Debian and Ubuntu.

Windows and RPM distros strongly discourage in-place upgrades for major version changes and encourage clean installs instead. Debian and Ubuntu encourage and support in-place major version upgrades, with some caveats for Ubuntu (below).

The other option is Gentoo, which doesn't even have major releases (Rich, correct me?), but you just pull in changes and re-compile them every couple of weeks, for incremental updates, forever. It is my understanding that Gentoo requires a little more up-front work, and a little more care & feeding, but you get a more tuned system and incremental updates on more current packages than other distros.

In other words, you only ever install Debian/Ubuntu or Gentoo once, then you keep them up-to-date fairly painlessly. How they work and how you keep them updated varies a bit, since Debian/Ubuntu .debs are binary and Gentoo is source and compiled.

Personally, I use Debian on servers and Ubuntu on workstations. Debian has a reputation of being rock solid, but very slow to update packages and very slow to release major upgrades. That's a Good Thing as far as I'm concerned. Debian releases are named for characters in _Toy Story_.

Ubuntu is a tad more bleeding edge and comes in two flavors, LTS and not-LTS. Regular, non-LTS releases happen every 6 months and fully support upgrades from one to the next, in order (you can't skip one, like going 9.10 to 10.10). LTS (Long Term Support) are supported for 3 years on the desktop, and fully support LTS --> LTS in-place upgrades.

Note Ubuntu names are YY.MM, usually YY.04 and YY.10 for releases in April and October respectively. They also have whimsical code names.

Based on your comments I'd suggest you look into migrating to Ubuntu LTS. Yes, that will be painful, but long term I think it will be good fit for what it sounds like you want.

For example, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop is supported until 2013-04, but Ubuntu 12.04 (~ 2012-04-30) will be the next LTS and the in-place upgrade path.

Yes, thinks still change and sometimes break when you do major version upgrades. But again you are doing OS + Apps. How many apps broke on the XP --> Vista upgrade? Hell, so many things would have broken on XP --> Win7 that they basically had to bundle XP in there, just to keep the stuff working. So you double your OS (and thus complexity and attack surface). Ouch.

OK, this got way too long, hope it's useful,
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.
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