Need to upgrade?
I had found a kernel that makes my computer to work as never before. Everything works, the execution is fast, reliable. But this kernel will be supported only until April 2011. How could I make myself sure that this machine will keep working ? Shall it be enough just to compile the kernel myself ? Shall it be enough, instead, to refuse the updates that the Ubuntu community send regularly ? Why should I refuse to apply a "security" update of the kernel ? Because I already applied one, from the original in Karmic (126.96.36.199) to one sent by the Ubuntu central (command and control office ?) that does not work at all, it doesn't even boot for God sake !!!! So please, I'm begging you guys for an advice: should I smash my computer with a heavy hammer by next April ? Should I commit suicide because I dont' have anymore my beloved all-is-working-ok-and-fast beautiful Ubuntu Karmic Koala ? Can I live after Ubuntu Karmic is no longer supported ? Kind of life after death ? Seriously: how can I preserve THIS kernel in which, I repeat, because I had tried: Hardy, that was working, Jaunty, that worked almost well, and Lucid that was making my CPU run OVER the 50% of load !!! (and don't tell me that I should use the lier "top" command, it showed that my CPU was 99% idle while I had to WAIT for a command completion for several seconds !!!!! Please, advice me on how can I make sure that I can preserve this BEAUTIFUL piece or computing art that is 188.8.131.52, that, together with the wonderful SiS771/671 driver makes my computer work and look at what it really is: a wonderful hardware (even being a cheap Dual Core) Thanks for the good work that all of you do. Sincerely yours
Upgrading is optional
The Linux kernel was updated in Karmic Koala a few times, anyway. I think you are confusing the notion of the kernel with the version of Ubuntu. The job of the Ubuntu committees is to make sure a constellation of modules works together satisfactorily for any one version. This includes not only the Linux kernel (current stable version is 2.6.x and is overseen by Linux Torvalds himself -- see the Wikipedia article), but also the GUI desktop (Gnome for Ubuntu, KDE for Kubuntu), and a variety of drivers and hardware modules (for networking, wireless connections, etc. etc.).
To ensure that all these disparate software modules work together and have a consistent structure, directory expectations, and security design is what the team for each version of Ubuntu does. (They rely heavily on the Debian team for most of the decisions.)
The problem is that software does not stand still -- security holes, bugs, and plain old ineffectiveness constantly come to light. Each module, from the Linux kernel to the desktop to individual drivers, changes independently of the others. It is hard work to make sure the individual changes don't completely disrupt the ability of the entire Ubuntu system to function.
Each individual version of Ubuntu has a team dedicated to it to constantly test the updated software modules and to determine if the independent changes should indeed even be allowed in that Ubuntu version. For Karmic Koala, for example, some software available in Lucid Lynx might not be updated to the newest version because it would make it incompatible with other software included in Karmic Koala.
The problem is, there are probably only 2000 people working on Ubuntu consistently, and only a handful with the all-around vision to keep track of all of this. Some help maintain several versions. Unless older version get retired, there would be too many versions to maintain and too few people to do the work.
I sympathize with your plight. I have a business server that still uses Hardy Heron, which I find exceptionally stable. I kept this version because it has long-term support. I also have a server with Jaunty and one with Karmic. Some of the software I use has only recently been made compatible with Lucid Lynx, so I haven't yet upgraded to Lucid.
Yes, you can turn off updates and keep a relatively stable system. I have a server that has been running unchanged for 7 years (albeit running a different Linux OS, since Ubuntu isn't that old). In fact, that's probably not a bad idea. (I remember three different occasions when my computer stopped working after a kernel upgrade, since the structure of the new kernel was not compatible with my hardware.)
Also, I never upgrade the entire distribution for one version to the next using Ubuntu upgrades. In my opinion, the distribution upgrade process is generally unreliable. Too many packages are upgraded at once, and there is often a loss of a database or two during the upgrade. Rather, I install a new parallel system each time and then migrate my old databases and data to the new system. This makes sure that one system continues to run while the new one is being tweaked and checked. (I do this for Windows and Mac, too).
There is a reason that Ubuntu designates some versions as Long Term Support. You ought to think about it and perhaps stick with one of those versions. Hardy Heron is an exceptionally stable version. Lucid Lynx, the next LTS version, is a completely different system but has far more modern capability for modern uses (distributed computing, mobile computing, etc.)
Lastly, I think it is worthwhile to figure out your security profile. Ubuntu is used worldwide and one has to assume that every malicious hacker is probing every line of code for weaknesses. If you are running servers and have lots of your computer open to the Internet, you should stay up-to-date. One of the primary reasons software is updated is to close security holes. Older versions sometimes don't remain as diligent in examining those holes. (The contrasting viewpoint holds that new software with major changes might have more security holes).
In short, never be the first nor the last to adopt a new technology.
I have a few common-sense pieces of advice. If you are running a production machine (for business or other critical function), backup not only your data, but also backup the entire operating system. In Ubuntuguide I have listed several system backup utilities, which help in duplicating the operating system. Every one of my computers has two or three Ubuntu operating systems installed on it, each on a separate partition. If my primary system gets hacked or otherwise becomes dysfunctional, I merely boot up the spare. (You can't do this with Windows or Mac, only with Linux.)
So, my final recommendation is to go ahead and keep your original system with all the updates turned off, but at the same time create an additional partition on which to install a parallel, newer Ubuntu version that you can start testing (and see if it eventually meets your needs).
Disclosure: I am not part of the Ubuntu team. Perspectoff 14:14, 29 August 2010 (UTC)