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We have several Desktop PCs that have Fedora 14 installed, but we need a Linux distro that doesn't need a reinstall every half year (no, dist-upgrade is not an option). We found Scientific-Linux, and according to the roadmap we have two options:

  1. We install 6.1 with GNOME, and use it for desktop purposes, we will have updates until 2017-11-11 -- more then 6 years!

  2. We install the "rolling release".

I haven't used any "rolling release" based Linux distros, so I don't know what that exactly means. Does it mean that if I install it once, we never need to re-install again because of a version upgrade? For example, Scientific-Linux 7 comes out, and I don't need to do a dist-upgrade?

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it's not just how many years does the release support lasts in time, but what is the quality of the people behind those updates and the time they have to invest in them. I wouldn't be happy with a 6 year support done by a small or not qualified team (not talking about any particular distro) –  hmontoliu Sep 29 '11 at 11:38
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You definitely want to go with option #1. From Questions about version numbers:

Q. What is a "rolling" release?

A. The "rolling" releases are our test releases. They are the equivilant to what 
another vendor calls "rawhide". We call them rolling because they are always rolling 
along and rarely stable.
    They are not meant to be stable. They are not meant to be used in a production 
enviroment. They are for testing purposes only. Depending on where we are in our 
testing the rolling can be a beta, a release candidate, and for a short time, will 
even match a current release.
    The development team of Scientific Linux does not garantee that a rolling 
release will work. We want to make that clear. Although the rolling releases 
might work just fine for the majority of the time, we might also just happen to be 
testing some product that does something you don't want it to do. 

The rolling option has a much larger likelihood of introducing significant unwanted changes to your systems than option #1 has.

Either way, I guarantee you that Fermilab an CERN aren't doing dist-upgrades to their systems every 6 months. Scientific Linux supports this by making their Security Errata repository available, which includes the security patches for your specific release of SL. They specifically state that this removes the requirement for administrators to upgrade their systems with each release.

From How To Upgrade To The Latest S.L. 6.x Release:

Scientific Linux was designed so that an administrator can easily upgrade their 
computer between minor releases.

It is not required that administrators upgrade their release, because the security 
errata will be updated for all releases. But there are often features and/or 
packages included in later releases that were not available with the earlier 
releases.

You were spot on about one thing, though. SL is "f*cking great for an Enterprise". :)

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great answer, thanks! –  LanceBaynes Sep 29 '11 at 11:41
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