Rolling release or fixed release Linux distros?
Rolling release Linux distributions have been around for a long time, but not everyone is aware of what they have to offer. ZDNet took a look at the advantages and disadvantages of rolling release distros versus fixed release distros.
SJVN at ZDNet reports:
A rolling-release Linux is one that's constantly being updated. To some of you, that will sound a lot like DevOps' idea of continuous deployment. You'd be right in thinking so. In both cases, the idea is that users and developers are best served by giving them the latest updates and patches as they're created.
I can see the arguments for both sides. Personally, I believe that rolling releases should only be deployed by experts for their own use or for customers who demand hot, new improvements. For everyone else, I think the stability of fixed-release distributions make them a better choice, especially for production environments.
Matt Hartley at Datamation makes a case against rolling release distributions:
...one might surmise that I really dislike using rolling release distributions. Or worse, I have little to no experience with them. The answer to this, of course, was addressed at the beginning of this article. I've been using rolling release distros for roughly a year now. I can see the appeal of using them, but I also feel that there needs to be a clearer set of guidelines for when they make sense as an option.
For desktop users, I believe newbies should avoid using rolling release distros until they're more comfortable rolling back packages and/or overcoming sudden breakage. Whether it's something as silly as a broken GNOME extension that worked yesterday, or your Ethernet card suddenly stopped working, if you can't overcome these issues – avoid rolling releases.
How To Geek also compared rolling release and fixed release distros:
A rolling release cycle is best if you want to live on the bleeding edge and have the latest available versions of software, while a standard release cycle is best if you want to benefit from a more stable platform with more testing.
Having the latest version of all your software sounds good, but it’s often not as beneficial as you might think. You probably don’t need the latest version of low-level system utilities and services. You probably wouldn’t even notice the difference if you installed them — unless there were bugs because different versions of software weren’t tested together. Updating this stuff in midstream could result in your system becoming more unstable or a weird bug popping up. For software you do want the latest version — like your desktop applications — it’s fairly easy to update a few applications even if you’re using a Linux distribution with a standard release cycle.