[arch-general] doubts about rolling release

yaro at marupa.net yaro at marupa.net
Mon Mar 10 11:08:06 EDT 2014

On Monday, March 10, 2014 10:13:39 AM Paul Gideon Dann wrote:
> On Friday 07 Mar 2014 15:09:27 Ary Kleinerman wrote:
> > Hi,
> > I'm a new Archer and I'm planning to install arch linux in a production
> > server environment, but I have doubts because Arch is a rolling release.
> > My
> > question is: what does it happen when there are big changes? e.g. changes
> > in the filesystem or when Arch has started using systemd.
> > Regards,
> > Ary
> I use Arch in production for several of our company's internal tools (bug
> tracker, SVN, etc...) I went through the systemd and /usr transition
> without a hiccup. The only downtime was the required reboot, I think.
> That's because I had been through the transition on my own machine and was
> well prepared. I've rarely had any issues caused by Arch updates.
> You do need to be aware of what packages to hold back (IgnorePkg in
> /etc/pacman.conf), which will depend on what you're using the server for.
> Finally, be sure to use a monitoring system. I use monit and ganglia.
> Together, they help me keep an eye on things like disk usage trends, and
> notify me of various causes for concern.
> I use rsnapshot for local iterative backup, along with a custom script that
> moves an archive onto a remote server that deals with getting it onto tape.
> (IT is all Windows-based; I'm pretty much the only Linux guy.)
> Paul

I love Arch on the desktop. It's great for having new versions. On discrete 
release distributions if you hear a neat new feature of a program you use 
coming out you'll often find yourself waiting months, or maybe even years 
before it'll come down official channels. While I admit this assures the new 
feature will get plenty of testing and real world usage before you get it, it 
still sucks before you get a taste of the new feature. 

I love Arch, but not for servers. I prefer Debian on my server. Despite all 
the dire warnings given to keep an eye on Arch's web site about certain 
upgrades, its still all too frequent user intervention is necessary where 
nothing is stated on the website at all about potential problems of that 
particular upgrade.

Production environments do not need that sort of support. While latest and 
greatest and the newest features might sound great for the desktop, on servers 
it's not that critical, and long term support and a need for a release to 
"stand still" is much more important. 

This is why I prefer Debian on my server: The only updates I should want on a 
server are those that improve the integrity and stability of its environment. 
I'll happily wait 2-3 years before I go for the major upgrades that will 
change the environment. Even then I might wait for "oldstable" to hit its EOL 
before upgrading, because not getting support at all is even worse.

At that point I can be confident that most of the upgrades won't need my 
intervention to work, save for a few things, thanks to testing.

Arch is great for power desktop users and those who want to be assured that 
they don't have to wait for months to years to get the latest Firefox or 
KDE/GNOME versions. But I've used it on servers juuuust enough to know it's 
not really suitable for that role.


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