A rolling release is a type of update or improvement to an existing computer application, mobile app, or software solution. Read on to learn more about how rolling releases work and when they should be used in IT development.
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What Is a Rolling Release?
In a rolling release, updates or improvements are performed in a continuous manner rather than through a single update or version release. As many continuous updates roll out on a regular basis, there is not always a version number assigned to a rolling release.
The frequency of updates can vary depending on the software development and implementation plan. Examples of software that use the rolling release model include Arch Linux and Gentoo.
What Software Problems Can Rolling Releases Fix?
A rolling release typically consists of many smaller updates. The objective of a rolling release can vary from minor enhancements to fixing major bugs in the system. It can also be used to roll back to previous versions of an application. A rolling release typically does not contain any changes to the user interface; however, there is no fixed standard or rule that dictates what can be included in a rolling release.
Rolling Release vs. Point Release
Rolling releases and point releases can be used interchangeably in some cases, but the development and release lifecycles that they offer are very different from each other. A point release packages all new application updates or enhancements in a single release or version, whereas a rolling release can be used for the continuous deployment of updates. Because a point release comes in a more definitive package, it is typically implemented when the user manually installs the new update over the previous version.
Pros and Cons of Rolling Releases
With a rolling release, the software developer is able to make quick changes to an application and push updates to the application or software as soon as those changes are coded. The smaller and more frequent updates are also easier to download and install for the hardware. Another major advantage of a rolling release is that the user gets to have up-to-date features and enhancements and doesn’t have to wait for a version release.
One of the disadvantages of a rolling release is that software testing and quality assurance might not be as thorough and rigorously performed as in a point release. This lesser focus on quality assurance can result in compatibility and performance issues with the application over time.
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