[arch-general] doubts about rolling release

Paul Gideon Dann pdgiddie at gmail.com
Mon Mar 10 11:27:27 EDT 2014

On Monday 10 Mar 2014 10:08:06 yaro at marupa.net wrote:
> 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.

Oh yeah, you need to have your head screwed on for each update. That is certainly a bad 
thing if you just want a simple Samba or PHP web server, for instance.

> 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.

It depends on the usecase. For me, I rely on the ease with which I can modify and rebuild 
packages on Arch. There's a relatively complex interaction on this server, and I like to know 
that I'm in control. For instance, the Ruby rmagick gem doesn't like the imagemagick 
package that Arch ships, so I have to do a small tweak to the PKGBUILD and build it myself. I 
don't get that kind of flexibility with Debian. (I'm sure it's technically possible, but Debian 
isn't geared toward that workflow like Arch is.)

> 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.

For a straight-forward server that I want to set up and forget, I totally agree. For a server 
that I use for continuous development of internal tools, I think I'd find Debian too brittle.

> 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.

I'd be using 3-year-old versions of Nginx, Redis, and Ruby if my server were Debian. As a 
developer, that's a real drag. It's just a different set of requirements, I think.


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