Upgrading the New LTS version of Ubuntu-Studio

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Upgrading the New LTS version of Ubuntu-Studio

Ubuntu, has a versioning release sytem that accommodates bleeding edge users and users that are seeking stability.  Ubuntu-Studio follows this scheme.

The various releases are kept track of by a Major release number – the latest being 16, a minor release number, and a point release number in the format:  16.04.1  The major releases have a code name, 16. is Xenial Xerus, often just referred to Xenial.

There are generally substantial changes between major releases.  All the new stuff gets beta tested and tossed out into the world.  A release like 16.01.0 will likely have some hiccups because there are many things that have changed, and the changes do not always play nice with each other.

Because users who have production systems cannot track the “latest and greatest”, Ubuntu has established a “Long Term Release” based upon even major release numbers.  Major release 16 contains a Long Term Release.  Because the first several point releases are cleaning up incompatibilities, bugs and mistakes, it would be inadvisable to make an early major release with a low point release the LTS.  The Ubuntu folks have figured that by the fourth point release the new version has settled down enough to be stable.  So version 16.04  (and every .04 release of an even major release will become an LTS)  To see the support status of the Ubuntu-Studio operating system and applications simply enter
$ ubuntu-support-status at the comand line.  The end of life status for Ubuntu releases determines when they no longer get updates.

When Ubuntu and Ubuntu-Studio 16.04 (without the.1) was released, it was very cool, but as all sofware, it still had bugs that had not been found or completely squashed.  It may not have had the user interface completely resolved.  Only when  Ubuntu-Studio 16.04.1 came out does it become the LTS edition – Ubuntu-Studio 16.04.1 LTS.  Ubuntu-Studio 16.04.1 LTS was released July 21, 2016.  Updates to this version are intended to be focused on bug fixes, substantial performance improvements, etc.  There are rarely new applications or significant changes to the way it operates updated.  LTS versions are supported for five years, and other versions for only nine months.

LTS releases are what you build production machines from.  You want to turn off  automatic updates because you really don’t want to come in in the morning to find your workstation no longer works with the program you need to use because it was “updated” overnight. To update an LTS release, simply issue $ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade.

There are two other versions of “apt-get upgrade“,  the “dist-upgrade”, which is pretty safe in that it tries to upgrade every package in the package list, but will avoid any upgrades which require deleting a library or other possible dependency for another program.  There is also “full upgrade” which takes a more aggressive stance, and updates as many packages as possible without breaking dependencies.  In a production machine, I recommend only doing upgrades when you are physically at the machine where you can reboot it or fix whatever might stop working.

As I mentioned before, an LTS release will not get any new packages, but will upgrade all those that have been installed.  There is one notable exception.  This exception is “backports”.  Backports come in at least two groups.  Ubuntu backports are pretty well tested and you might consider using them to fix a broken or buggy driver, or to get something you really need working better.  By enabling the Ubuntu Backports repository (enabled by default) and installing from there opens you to some risk in a production environment, but it will probably work.

There are also manual backports where you build a package from a later edition of Ubuntu Studio to get some additional functionality.  Manual backports are for the daring and not for a production environment.

There are many different use conditions for Ubuntu-Studio, so you should plan carefully to determine what upgrade strategy to follow.  Do you want an appliance that will keep doing the same thing, year after year?  Is it your toolbox that needs to keep sharp?  It is a machine that lives on the internet and needs the latest security patches?  Is it on a closed network that is pretty safe from intrusion.  (Don’t forget flash drives, at my station we had a virus travel through several unconnected machines by the flashdrives in our “sneaker net”)

For anything you do with Rivendell, it is essential that you maintain a stable working environment.  Starting with a Ubuntu-Studio LTS distribution is an important place to start.  Locking down the upgrade process is one way to do that.  Opening it up only when prepared for a failure is a good strategy.  You really don’t want to have Rivendell go down without a plan to stay on the air.  Working out a plan to include security updates on a regular basis is also important.


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