All Linux distro update aren't equal

In my first introduction to Linux, I read where the end user is NOT required to install every update or postpone updates that came along. Having said that, which updates are the really important ones (and how do you tell) as opposed to say… database libraries, package updates, etc. I am currently using Linux Mate (single boot) and had a Distro update ( Hirsute Hippo to Impish Indri) knock out my WiFi printer.

It is correct you are never forced to do the updates at any stage, it’s down to you. But the newer version of mint does make stronger suggestions than before.

When you select update, the panel offers a range of them numbered 1 to 5 and usually the first numbers 1 to 3 are selected by default. These can be considered essential to operation of the system.

I have one client who after 7 years has never done any updates ! Only now he finds that some web sites are harder to access due to conversion to https, minor issue for him.

Another never moved version from 17 up to a newer one, again not a problem for him.

Personally I do them all, needed or not.

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Thxs for suggestion, I do too. Better to have it and NOT need it than to need it and NOT have it.

I would say that it is worth making security updates a priority, or at least looking at them to see what they are fixing (possibly a good bit more work, and may need some fairly deep understanding of security issues, depending on how much of a deep dive into this you want to go…)

Granted there are differences in how vital different security updates are, but I would want a definite reason not to do one before I’d skip it.

If it is just a general “new and improved” sort of update I’d see it as less critical and more of an optional thing.

Another thing that might be worth considering is that there are sometimes cases where it can become problematic to update if to many versions have gone by between what you are running and what you want for an update. (lots of possible reasons for this)

So overall, unless there is a reason not to, I tend to automatically apply any available updates.


Not really had a reason not to update but as your rely reminds me that any future updates (Libs or dbs) may actually depend on the one that got a away.

I make it a practice to apply all updates. When faced with an UPGRADE, I generally back up my data, flush the drive, and do a fresh install. I’ve been burned way too often by upgrades in many different distros so I don’t even bother with them. StableGenius might need to consider this distinction.

Yes that is the safe way. Only downside is you lose all your settings in /etc directory. If your /home directory is on a separate partition your personal settings, mail, and so on should be ok.
I have done cross-release upgrades… they generally work but can break any software installed outside the package system such as in /usr/local.
One advantage of a rolling release distro , is that there are no cross-release upgrades.

I miss the days when we only EVER patched stuff, if the patch, was an actual fix, for something that was broken, and we were getting symptoms from the “broken-ness”… IF IT AINT BROKE DON’T FIX IT FFS!

I really F–KING hate it when someone asks, when you raise some issue, “is your machine updated?” (and they generally just make the blind assumption I’m using Windows). I can still remember recent “graduates” (I use that term VERY loosely) of “The Microsoft Piece of Paper Academy of Exam Cram”, “engineers” (more sarcasm), whose answer to EVERY SINGLE WINTEL issue was “have you applied Service Pack 1, 2, 3 or whatever?”…


That is a long time ago. I remember patching a PDP and a CP/M micro. I mean a REALpatch as in a diff file applied to source code.

We have all been inflicted with this “new is better” philosophy, and I have to admit there has been progress in some areas of software, and certainly in hardware.

It is not really feasable to buck the system and reject updates. I did that with my last Windows 10, and it slowly became unusable, so I chucked it out. On the other hand I have an old pentium laptop with Debian 8, still going strong without updates.


I’m giving Rolling Rhino a try. I’m pretty embedded in the Debian/Ubuntu world, so maybe this rolling release respin will give me the best of both worlds.

By keeping my mail and settings with the server, they all come back to me by just signing in to Firefox and Thunderbird on any new installation. It’s a form of backup.


I had to look jt up… Rhino is a new Ububtu rolling release distro.
Yes Debian world is hard to escape from… everything else I try falls short in some way.

There is also MX which is within the Debian family. It is semi-fixed release … ie it rolls until you hit a major release, and then you get to choose whether to do the major release or not. I find that confusing, but ai must say MX is stable and popular.

Be prepared for a few gliches. The way to deal with it is to snapshot or backup your rolling release more frequently… eg before each update…
then if it plays up, just roll it back.

Been doing that for years now, maybe 15 years? I just use whatever web client my mail system provides… used to use my ISP’s webmail, then gmail (I’d never trust my ISP with my email after an “incident” where they deleted EVERYTHING - so I guess local backup copy makes sense?). Some people insist on running a “fat client” for e-mail, I don’t understand that, for work I use the web client : corporate outlook / o365 subscription - I suppose if you want a local copy it makes sense? My most important data is sync’d across 10+ devices (Android phone, iPad, 2 x MacBook, ~8 x Linux) using Resilio Sync, Music and Videos on my NAS…

A complete O/S re-install is maybe an hour’s work, then maybe 3 hours to get all my data sync’d?

Probably the single most convincing argument for me is my printer. A friend gifted me a Canon ImageClass MF 4450, a workhorse office-type all-in-one machine. I found a Canon package–linux-UFRII-drv-v530-uken–which contains both .deb and .rpm install files. When I try a new Debian family distro, I just run the .deb file and the printer is up and running, although I have to correct the paper type from A4 to letter (can’t buy A4 paper in the States). I may try the new Fedora and see if the .rpm file works there.

If my printer ever dies, I’ll just have to start over with a new one, maybe even something CUPS recognizes, and then I might just try every kind of distro. It’s not that I’m set in my ways, just that unbroken, obsolete tools still have a place in my inventory (they remind me of myself).

Hi Bill,
Guess what. I have exactly the same situation… a Brother multifunction printer whose drivers are .deb and .rpm files. I do the same as you… install the .deb file manually. It works fine in any Debian derived Linux.

I had a real problem with it in Void Linux. It doesnt understand .deb files. I found out how to unpack the .deb file and install its contents by a series of commands. It you ever need to know, let me know… I have a recipe for unpacking .deb files.

Printers are a bigger issue than some people want to admit. I left FreeBSD and went to Debian because of lack of printer drivers.
The new Airprint protocol might address some of these issues, but only for new printers.

Since around 2017, Ubuntu releases, both LTS, and “rolling”, have “out of the box” found my Brother printer and installed it - in the background… I love this printer, had it since 2016, Brother MFC9335CDW, a colour laser MFC (don’t, can’t, use the fax capabilities, don’t have analog phone lines no more). i.e. I don’t have to do anything, I realise I need to print that PDF that I need to sign and then scan it again? I look in my PDF viewer (I’m agnostic about PDF viewers, they’re a necessary evil) and my printer’s already SETUP - magic!

Discovered it’s the same deal with Fedora… Recently sent the printer to a repair shop, kept jamming, turned out the sensor board had to be replaced…

Bring it home from the repair shop, my new Fedora 35 “build” on my desktop gaming machine just found it - no intervention!

$150 to repair a $600 printer ($88 to look at it $62 to fix it)? Seems fair to me anyway - I DETEST LANDFILL… I can still get consumables for it… The ONLY thing I don’t like about it? It has duplex printing, but not duplex scanning or copying… And some how, being turned off for a few months (while waiting to get it to a repair shop) - it lost all it’s settings, e.g. profiles to scan to PDF, or JPG, and upload them to the FTP server on my NAS. So it’s a few extra steps now and I have to use USB thumb drive for scanning…

It was worth risking that $88 for inspection, to avoid creating more landfill. But it if had been a $300 repair bill? I’d have opted for a new printer, and would have gone for another Brother MFC laser (I’m ambivalent about printing in colour - but my kids wanted a colour printer).

z[quote=“daniel.m.tripp, post:15, topic:8003”]
had it since 2016, Brother MFC9335CDW, a colour laser MFC

Hi Daniel,
What is the color laser like for printing photos on glossy
I currently use a Brother color inkjet MFC. I like Brother, they are built like tanks… The modern ones are print, scan,copy without the fax.


I’ll have to introduce Fedora into my sandbox to see if it will magically function with my old Canon. Yup, the fax function is pretty worthless, but I love being able to stack papers in the feeder and have it copy them. Wish the scanner would do that.

Sorry - I wouldn’t know - I don’t print photos - and I’d be perfectly happy with the B&W version of this printer…

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Just an update, Neville. Rolling Rhino seemed pretty sound, but when I overlaid the kde/plasma package from the Ubuntu repository, it really came to life. I’ve tried MX and it’s fine, but I’m growing to like KDE more and more.

Hi Bill,
Yes, when I tried KDE in Void , I liked it and kept it on disk.
I am trying to think of some new way to use those plasmoid things. They are great for displaying stuff that is changing fast… like your memory usepage or network traffic … but I would like to use them to monitor an executing program, like an R function . I find plasmoids a little less flexible than windows when it comes to where they go on the screen and how they overlay with windows.
Keep KDE up to date, it is changing rapidly… Rolling Rhino should do that. The whole point of rolling release distros is that they DO keep stuff up to date.
How well rolling release works is all about the quality of those managing the distro… Keep an eye out over the next few months for things like releasing updates too early and causing crashes. Arch is notorious for that, Void and Solus never crash. I want to hear you say Ubuntu rolling never crashes.