Resilience of Distributions

When we compare distributions (or operating systems: we shouldn’t forget BSD), there are a lot of aspects to consider:

  • The general look and feel of the provided desktop(s)
  • The quality of the installer
  • The hardware support
  • Philosophical questions about whether proprietary software should be included or not
  • Package management
  • and many more

Still, when I wrote my statement

in another thread, I realized that the aspect of resilience is often overlooked. What I mean is the following: I installed Kubuntu in 2008 and never did a fresh installation. I always kept my system up-to-date, and performing upgrades, when available, with
sudo do-release-upgrade -m desktop.

In the years, I switched the computer from a dual core CPU with 1 GB of RAM over a quad core i3 with 4 GB to an octa core i7 with 32 GB, moving the operating system by just plugging the old hard disk into the new computer, upgraded the system hard disk from HDD to SSD by cloning the old disk onto the new one, replaced the onboard Intel GPU with a dedicated AMD graphics card, installed several pieces of hardware, like an internal smart card reader, additional USB 3 ports and so on.

I really can’t say whether it is common to have a perfectly working state-of-the-art operating system more than 12 years after installing it, but I think, it shows that the people who provided the upgrade and update routines at Kubuntu really did a fantastic job.

Naturally, I don’t have much to compare to. At work, distros were switched every time a new CTO took the helm, and he felt, everybody should love his favourite pet. None of the other distros I have been running at home on virtual machines or on separate disks was ever intended to last forever.

I’d like to hear from others what their experiences were and which kind of problems you encountered and how did you overcome them.

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