Do we need to adopt a term for our release model?

One of the most common topics about Fedora is what to call our release model.

‘We’re a stable release because we have major versions.’

“No,” say the Ubuntu and Debian crowd, “we are the actual stable releases because we go years between LTS versions and make sure everything is rock solid.”

‘Well, are we a rolling release? That doesn’t seem right.’

“No,” says the Arch[1] crowd, “because we get the latest packages as soon as they are available and we have no major releases!”

‘Then what kind of release model do we have? We have major versions - we just don’t wait so long between versions like other distros do with their LTS versions. We have up to date packages, but we test them before pushing them out to users rather than just sending them out. What’s the best name for how we do things?’

The most common term used to solve this is semi-rolling release. I think this kind of works because it clearly indicates that we are somewhere in-between a rolling and stable release. If we want to settle on this language, I think that’s fine.

However, seeing how we are kind of an outlier with this release model, I think there could be room to explore other terms that we think do a better job of describing what we do. Or we can try coming up with a new one if we’re feeling adventurous.

The other reason I would like for us to think about terms is to start undoing the idea that Fedora is a bleeding edge distro. We test out software. We are not bleeding edge. Just because you are using the latest version of software doesn’t mean you’re bleeding edge. It means you’re up to date. In my opinion, Linux is unique in describing the use of the latest version of software as bleeding edge. Everywhere else, you’re just on the current version.

Regardless of what term we feel the most comfortable with, we can start incorporating it into our messaging so that we can answer that question once and for all. Debian is a stable release distro. Arch is a rolling release distro. Fedora is a ‘___’ release distro.

What do you think?

Opinion Zone

As far as I’m concerned, Fedora should be called the stable release model, Arch can keep rolling release, and Debian/Ubuntu should switch to ‘LTS release model’. I know that’s not happening.

When software comes out, we test it to make sure it’s not going to break things, and then we push it out because it’s done. Debian and Ubuntu wait to long to push updates when they don’t need to, and Arch doesn’t wait enough because they don’t test. If I’m feeling spicy, I might say Fedora is using the ‘correct’ release model, lol.

  1. btw ↩︎


I don’t think Fedora is “semi-rolling”. It isn’t rolling at all IMO.

I think of rolling distros as ones which don’t provide library stability and fixed distros as those that do. The “newness” of the packages is something else entirely. A distro can be rolling even if the package versions are not bleeding edge.

For me, it is a fixed release distro with an aggressive release process and a moderate life-cycle.

Also, “stable” is a meaningless identifier for a distro. The word has too many different meanings but most people interpret it as “crashes less often” which is almost definitely not what would be intended in the context of a “stable release distro”.


I’m not sure I would think of LTS as a release model, it’s more of a modifier applied to some individual releases. The fundamental difference between Ubuntu and Fedora release methodologies in my opinion is how they choose to manage kernel updates, Ubuntu backports while Fedora updates. The full updates policy has far more details, but I’m not sure it would be accurate to think of a Fedora release as always having the latest package versions.

Please, no. CentOS Stream was announced as a “rolling release” and everyone outside of Red Hat heard that as meaning it was versionless, like Arch. IMO, if you’re going to ship “versions” of your distro at all, do not use the words “rolling release”. Rawhide is the only thing that can really be considered “rolling release” by conventional understanding (ie, Arch, Tumbleweed, etc.).

“Stable” is a loaded term. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad or inaccurate one. It’s just one that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people depending on context. As a consumer focused distribution, Fedora is easily arguably “stable”. As an enterprise server OS, that highly depends on the workload and who is administering it. Still, “stable release” is fitting in that there is a generally stable API for most things across the life of that release - ie, we don’t upgrade Gnome, KDE, etc. abruptly during that release. The kernel is a major exception to this.

Lastly, there’s another category for Fedora, which is IMO well-defined but harder to describe in classic terms, namely “Atomic Updates” (CoreOS, IoT), where it’s sort of functionally a “stable release” acting more like a rolling release in practice where things are constantly getting updates based on a snapshot of stream, and that stream just happens to be tracking a major Fedora version (or rawhide).

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Naturally, I will call it a “Periodic Release Model” (not sure if that is a valid term in software engineering field)

Plain language is more effective than any jargon. Using “fixed release”—which is the correct, well-established term to describe Fedora and the vast majority of Linux distros—would not improve the following sentence:

The Fedora Project releases a new version of Fedora Linux approximately every six months and provides updated packages (maintenance) to these releases for approximately 13 months.

Making up a new term would not solve this non-issue; it would only create a new problem of having to define the term every time it is used.

Honestly this post reads like a meme, between the claim that this is a “common topic”, the way the fake argument between distros is written, and the Arch meme.


I use mostly the term “Regular release”. No claims of stability or whatever, just that we have a regular cadence. And to clarify the usability aspect I would add that it is easy to upgrade.

Regular releases with seamless upgrades would be my slogan.


I can see that point as well. Just thought it would be something to explore if people felt there was a succinct way of describing it and have enough of an interest from the rest of the community.

I didn’t mean it as a meme, but I guess I would chuckle if it became a copypasta.

I do see this come up often. Not in the sense that people debate how to refer to Fedora, but in that different folks will describe Fedora in different ways. Everyone knows Ubuntu is a stable release and Arch is a rolling release, but for Fedora you’re likely to get a different answer depending on who you ask.

Is this a super duper important thing to address? No, but I do think it contributes to the idea people have of Fedora as a bleeding edge distro - and therefore not something that should be used by people who want a stable experience. If Arch is rolling and Arch breaks often, and Fedora is kind of a rolling, does that mean that Fedora kind of breaks often? That kind of guestimation can lead prospective Fedora users to think that Fedora breaks, just not as often as Arch, when in reality Fedora’s stability may be comparable to Ubuntu. The language has potentially spooked people.

But also this ain’t the end of the world. This was more curiosity on my part.

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This just came to me…

“180 Forward”

Because everything gets a chance to make big updates roughly every six months.

What do you mean by “library stability”?

Having used Arch for some time (near to five years), Chakra (3 years), Gentoo (just a couple of years), and giving a shot to openSUSE Tumbleweed, I understand the rolling-release model as not being tied to any specific versioned release in time.

There’s no such thing as a “system upgrade” concept in a rolling-release model, as every single package that composes the system is updated regularly. Isn’t Fedora Rawhide a rolling-release? (I never tried it myself).

Incidentally, a rolling-release distribution model doesn’t imply a lack of stability in the delivered software; if anything, that could come from the so-called “bleeding edge” distributions (which, by the way, isn’t true for Arch Linux).

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Basically that major library versions don’t change inside a single release.

You mentioned Arch, that is a good example. Arch does not have library stability. When a library is upgraded, all the packages linked to that library need to be rebuilt. Likewise, you need to be careful to upgrade all packages at once or you can easily end up with broken packages.

In a fixed release distro, this shouldn’t happen. Major version changes to libraries typically only happen during distro version changes. This also means you can install packages without always ensuring the system is updated first.

There are pros and cons to both approaches but that is difference I was referring to.

This is what I was referring to above. The way you are using the word “stability” is very different than the intended meaning when referring to a “stable” distro.

“stable” in this sense doesn’t mean not crashing or not broken. Stable is about the amount and the type of changes that are allowed.

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imho, rawhide is definitely a rolling release. It has no point releases and always gets big updates.

I think rolling releases are great for a small subset of users. Those that are always happy to adjust to the latest thing, or have an interest in integrating to the latest thing. However, they are not so great for most users, because they take away the choice of when to do disruptive changes. You just have to keep rolling. With a point release system, users can choose (within a window) when they want to make the jump to the new release.

Think of a student, they don’t want a new version of say libreoffice when they are in the middle of a term and don’t have time to learn the changes. They want to wait for a break, upgrade to the next release and learn the new setup when they have dedicated time for it.

I agree that ‘stable’ is a term we should avoid. It means too many different things to too many people.

I think something like ‘point release model’ describes Fedora…


This is what I was referring to above. The way you are using the word “stability” is very different than the intended meaning when referring to a “stable” distro.

“stable” in this sense doesn’t mean not crashing or not broken. Stable is about the amount and the type of changes that are allowed.

This is an interesting distinction. The language alone is such a rabbit hole…

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