A Quantitative Assessment of Package Freshness in Linux Distributions

03/16/2021 ∙ by Damien Legay, et al. ∙ 0

Linux users expect fresh packages in the official repositories of their distributions. Yet, due to philosophical divergences, the packages available in various distributions do not all have the same degree of freshness. Users therefore need to be informed as to those differences. Through quantitative empirical analyses, we assess and compare the freshness of 890 common packages in six mainstream Linux distributions. We find that at least one out of ten packages is outdated, but the proportion of outdated packages varies greatly between these distributions. Using the metrics of update delay and time lag, we find that the majority of packages are using versions less than 3 months behind the upstream in 5 of those 6 distributions. We contrast the user perception of package freshness with our analyses and order the considered distributions in terms of package freshness to help Linux users in choosing a distribution that most fits their needs and expectations.



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