On Package Freshness in Linux Distributions

by   Damien Legay, et al.

The open-source Linux operating system is available through a wide variety of distributions, each containing a collection of installable software packages. It can be important to keep these packages as fresh as possible to benefit from new features, bug fixes and security patches. However, not all distributions place the same emphasis on package freshness. We conducted a survey in the first half of 2020 with 170 Linux users to gauge their perception of package freshness in the distributions they use, the value they place on package freshness and the reasons why they do so, and the methods they use to update packages. The results of this survey reveal that, for the aforementioned reasons, keeping packages up to date is an important concern to Linux users and that they install and update packages through their distribution's official repositories whenever possible, but often resort to third-party repositories and package managers for proprietary software and programming language libraries. Some distributions are perceived to be much quicker in deploying package updates than others. These results are valuable to assess the requirements and expectations of Linux users in terms of package freshness.


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