Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (Tikanga) was released on March 14, 2007 and yesterday was RHEL 5's 3rd birthday. Since then we have gotten 4 update releases.
Given the fact that Red Hat's original plan was to have a new RHEL release every 18 - 24 months, one has to wonder where RHEL 6 is and why it is so late. My best guess is that RHEL 6 (which so far has had a non-public alpha release within Red Hat as witnessed in some Bugzilla reports) will come out sometime this summer... possibly in time for the Red Hat Summit in Boston (June 22-25, 2010). For that to happen I would expect a public beta for RHEL 6 to be released in the not too distant future. We'll see how that pans out.
While we are waiting, how about some idle discussion?
I periodically check out Fedora Planet and today I noticed a big post by Josh Boyer entitled, "Why Fedora needs an Updates Policy". I left a medium-sized comment there that I decided to post here as well.
It is working pretty well without a policy... but that isn't to say that a policy isn't needed, because it would be good to have an update policy. I however like the rapid pace of updates and version churn in Fedora and I think the codification of an update policy would be slanted to always favor more conservative updates.
I like that Fedora updates KDE every time there is a new release from the KDE project. I like how I can get newer versions of things as they appear... and yes it will sometimes lead to breakage, but that was one of the charms of Fedora. On the other hand it seems that some packages are constantly updated, like every other week. That may be an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that.
Ideally there would be a conservative updates repo and a newest-stuff repo... but I'm sure that would be more work than your already overworked group of Red Hat employees and Fedora volunteers would want to take on... and I don't blame them.
Given the rapid 6 month development cycle of Fedora and the limited lifespan of any given release... the better answer, if stability is the considern, would be to lengthen the development release cycle... but no one wants to do that, right? Another solution would be to have stated LTS releases every couple of releases, but again... that idea has been batted around several times and dismissed.
It seems many wish something would fall between the rapid development cycle of Fedora and the slow development cycle of RHEL. I don't see how that is going to happen.
Not having an update policy and the recent complaints about it will be something that is heavily criticized by those from other distros and the Linux press... but it doesn't mean that the system you have been working with and the decisions you have been making haven't been working well enough. Package makers are supposed to submit their stuff to testing, people are supposed to test and provide feedback, and only when a package is deemed sufficiently ready should it be considered. I think it is better to leave it up to the package maintainers themselves on what version of a piece of software they want to release... unless of course is an underlying package that disrupts things above it... and you have tried to address that by identifying core/critical packages and putting more rules on their being updated.
I would hope any update policy Fedora comes up with would retain the current flavor of Fedora with rapid and constant updates... rather than being stuck with older releases of things when upstream has fixed a lot of bugs and released newer versions with additional features. If you don't retain that quality then it will just encourage the development of yet more third-party repositories with newer software and just make an even bigger mess. This gets back to the seeming constant desire for Fedora to define itself and who it is targeting... and then potentially limiting itself to those more strictly defined goals. I for one like it fast and loose... but I'm just a user. :)
Ok, the dust has had time to settle after Apple's announcement last week of their upcoming iPad device. There has been plenty of praise for the new device and even some criticism. Given the title of this entry, it is clear that I'm here to criticize it.
A New Form Factor?
During his presentation Steve Jobs railed against the Netbook form factor and said they were just cheap, slow laptops. While that might have been true for the first generation of Netbooks, the second generation (with 1.6GHz Atom H/T CPUs) have been quite usable. In fact, I wrote this on one. Intel has followed up with an even more capable Atom processor that is just starting to appear in newer Netbook models. It appears more generations of netbooks are coming: those with the newer Atom CPUs, and those with ARM CPUs. One will speed up the Netbook, and the other will reduce its capabilities and make it cheaper.
I suspect the iPad is what it is because Apple decided it couldn't compete on features and price against the Netbook... so they decided to change the game. I think several of the major PC makers wish the Netbook would be declared a fad and just go away. Why, because there isn't a lot of mark-up on Netbooks and the competition is fierce. Apple wanted a device that would be inexpensive to manufacture yet something in a category where they could do what they always do... price it with a large profit margin. Amazon has done quite well with the Kindle and Apple has done quite well with the iPhone / iPod Touch so why not combine the two?
The sad thing is that Apple has basically delivered a Netbook but by chopping off the keyboard (and all of the I/O ports), giving it a touch screen, and crippling it significantly in several ways, they have everyone convinced that it is a new form factor. This is aided by the fact that it is reminiscent of devices from the Star Trek universe. In writing this article, I hope to expose the iPad for what it really is and stay out of Steve Job's reality distortion field.
I wrote a comment to an LWN news blurb referring to a story about the future of Linux was in Google Chrome OS. The post was so long that I decided to cross post it here. :)
- - - - -
I assume you (the person on LWN who wrote the comment I was replying to) were being sarcastic when you said that 10-20 million Linux desktops don't count. I'd argue that the numbers are actually larger than that (probably by as much as 2x) but let's stick with a medium number of 15 million... for my discussion below.
Some people want commercial software on Linux, some don't. I attended the Utah Open Source Conference 2009 in Oct. and attended a presentation by a big wig from Adobe where he talked about FLOSS and Adobe. Of course the usual question came up about when will we get Photoshop and various other Adobe products for Linux and the answer was something like, "when there are enough Linux users to guarantee sales of at least 50 million copies". That is a rather high hurdle. Seriously, you have to sell 50 million copies of something before it becomes profitable? What a poorly run company you must have.