[arch-general] doubts about rolling release

John WH Smith jwhsmith at englandmail.com
Mon Mar 10 11:40:13 EDT 2014

On 07/03/14 18:09, 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

As far as the rolling release is concerned, I don't think it should be 
banned just because the servers are production ones. To be honest, I 
think the problem goes a little deeper than that, and as it so happens, 
I ran into a similar questioning recently.

I think there are two important questions to ask :
- Is the server set up for final users or actual programmers/technical 
folks ?
- Does the server require maximal uptime, and how much downtime can it 
afford to take ?

For the first one, that's what finally brought me back to Debian on my 
latest install, even though I had absolutely no technical issue with 
using Arch. You see, I work with web developers on this machine, and 
they need an nginx server with PHP and MySQL available for their 
applications. To me, that is the tricky thing : these developers would 
assassinate me if I kept updating PHP regularly, because their local 
development environment doesn't have the same update rhythm, meaning I 
would probably take down their applications very often, because they 
cannot handle versions of PHP higher than theirs. Pretty logical 
actually, especially with Windows-based developers, who need to do a lot 
more manipulations to keep their WAMP install up-to-date (when they 
can). Same thing happens with other applications, even though I can't 
quote many more right now. Anyway, the question reveals an important 
point when you work with programmers : make sure you match development 
and production environments as much as you can (and it *does* require a 
lot of efforts if one of them is Arch).

Now, if your server aims at final users, like students (out of the 
computing field) or administratives, then I don't see many risks to 
anticipate. Applications do not rely on each other very much, crashing 
one doesn't mean taking the whole thing down. A failed update could be 
fixed without too much services downtime required.

The other question on the other hand remains quite obvious. If your 
server runs a simple Intranet in a company, where documents can still be 
shared physically in last resort, well : install Arch and enjoy the 
ride! The information system can afford longer downtimes, giving you 
enough time to fix whatever update messed things up. By the way, I 
strongly believe you will fix things faster if you like your environment 
(I assume it is Arch here, of course). Being used to your system is much 
more important than its stability when it comes to your sysadmin speed 
of reaction.

All in all : think about who uses (and messes with) your server, and how 
much they rely on it. To me, those are two important things to take into 
account when choosing your distribution.

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