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Thread: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

  1. #1

    Default Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Hello members/ moderators,

    I am presently running Leap 42.3, and it's working great. Everything is supported perfectly on my Dell laptop. I have this USB sound card which I was pretty sure wouldn't work, but that's working too. The system even allows me to "switch" between the laptop's internal sound hardware and the external card, without having to unplug the external card, which is great as I can now switch from my external 7.1 speakers to the headphones connected to the laptop's internal headphone socket very easily.

    I wouldn't have thought about Tumbleweed unless the support period was so less for a leap point release- 6 months is awfully less. I don't want to re-install every 6 months, that's a terrible idea. And from what I've read, an 'upgrade install' over an already installed version is not guaranteed to succeed. Even if everything goes well and the system seems to work after the upgrade from one point release to another, there might still be issues which show up after some time and those would be difficult to fix unless you're an expert.

    Tumbleweed, on the other hand, has a somewhat infinite support period. A standard "sudo zypper up" will keep the system updated forever- negating the requirement for regular re-installs from scratch and the risk to breaking the system from an "upgrade install" not going quite as expected.

    However, these forums are full of bizarre problems in Tumbleweed- I don't want my perfectly functioning Synaptics touchpad to break after a regular Tumbleweed update. Leap seems to be more stable. I've been updating the system for about 15 days, and an update has never caused anything to break.

    So then, when 42.4 is released, shall I just move to Tumbleweed? Are these "problems" of weird system failures the exception or the rule in case Tumbleweed? Is Tumbleweed stable enough to be used as a non-experimental everyday OS?

    Thank you for the answers..

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnwinchester View Post
    I wouldn't have thought about Tumbleweed unless the support period was so less for a leap point release- 6 months is awfully less. I don't want to re-install every 6 months, that's a terrible idea.
    The support period is *18* months, not 6 months. Or to be more precise: A Leap release is supported until the next version is released (which happens about once a year) *plus* 6 months.

    And you don't have to reinstall. Just change the repos and upgrade with "zypper dup".
    Or boot the installation medium and select upgrade.

    Tumbleweed, on the other hand, has a somewhat infinite support period.
    Tumbleweed has no "support period" at all. It's constantly changing.
    In reality you are actually upgrading way more often (i.e. constantly) than just once a year or so.

    A standard "sudo zypper up" will keep the system updated forever
    Wrong.
    Each Tumbleweed snapshot is a totally new release, you need to *upgrade* with "zypper dup".
    Else you'd get into trouble sooner or later.

    So then, when 42.4 is released, shall I just move to Tumbleweed?
    There won't be a 42.4.
    The next version is 15.0, based on SLE 15, and to be released in about a month.

    In principle, TW should run reliable (more or less).
    But if Leap 42.3 is working fine and you don't really have the need or want the latest software all the time, I see no reason to switch to Tumbleweed.
    OTOH, if you don't mind the *many* updates, I see no reason not to switch either.
    Except that it can be troublesome if you rely on 3rd party software or drivers (like nvidia).

    I don't use it myself though (I have upgraded my system without reinstalling since SuSE 8.1 in 2003 ), so cannot really speak about personal experience.
    Last edited by wolfi323; 21-Apr-2018 at 10:59.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfi323 View Post
    I don't use it myself though (I have upgraded my system without reinstalling since SuSE 8.1 in 2003 )
    Sounds encouraging..

    Of course I'm nowhere near as experienced as you are, the chances of breaking the system during an upgrade is much higher for me I guess..

    When the time comes (ie, 15.0 is released), I'll backup my '/home' to an external hdd, and post a list of my repos- it'd be great if you could guide me on changing the repos and other steps that need to be taken to avoid bricking the installation. In the worst case, if I do end up causing problems, I'll at least not lose my personal files.

    Nah I don't need the latest and the greatest. A good stable system (like Leap 42.3) is what I'll pick, any day.

    Thanks for clearing things up Wolfi. Really appreciate the help I'm receiving from you guys

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    I've been running Tw for years now, and since the new model of -simply said- releasing over and over again after testing the upgrade ( which it actually is ) through openQA, it's definitely out of the experimental league. IME it's stable, i.e. I'm hardly doing any work on my system, but rather use it to get work done.

    This with one caveat: if you have an older NVIDIA card, you need to do a manual driver install ( pretty easy ), where Leap supports all NVIDIA cards that NVIDIA supports.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knurpht View Post
    This with one caveat: if you have an older NVIDIA card, you need to do a manual driver install
    http://http.download.nvidia.com/opensuse/tumbleweed/
    Of course it may lag behind so one still needs to be careful during kernel updates.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnwinchester View Post
    When the time comes (ie, 15.0 is released), I'll backup my '/home' to an external hdd, and post a list of my repos
    It's definitely a good idea to have a current backup of your important files.

    But in principle it isn't really necessary to backup /home before the upgrade, the upgrade will neither touch the partitioning nor /home.

    Btw, if you use btrfs for the system partition (as is the default for a while now), you can easily revert the upgrade in case of problems, as a snapshot will automatically be created before anything is changed.

    - it'd be great if you could guide me on changing the repos and other steps that need to be taken to avoid bricking the installation.
    Everything should be explained here:
    https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:System_upgrade

    Although basically it's adjusting the repo Urls (e.g. replace 42.3 with 15.0) and run "zypper dup", or download the installation CD/DVD (either the full one or the NET installer, I'm not sure if the new LiveCD's support an upgrade) and choose "Upgrade" in the boot menu instead of "Install".

    Of course feel free to ask if you have questions...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnwinchester View Post
    Hello members/ moderators,
    ...

    However, these forums are full of bizarre problems in Tumbleweed- I don't want my perfectly functioning Synaptics touchpad to break after a regular Tumbleweed update. Leap seems to be more stable. I've been updating the system for about 15 days, and an update has never caused anything to break.

    So then, when 42.4 is released, shall I just move to Tumbleweed? Are these "problems" of weird system failures the exception or the rule in case Tumbleweed? Is Tumbleweed stable enough to be used as a non-experimental everyday OS?
    I have only moderate experience, but I think the short answer is a qualified "yes". The caveat would be to check this forum before doing a `zypper dup`. I'll suggest the following sequence (others welcome to suggest otherwise) if you do move to Tumbleweed as your everyday OS:
    • Do occasional `zypper dup`s to see if a new release of TW is available, but cancel if there is, after noting the new kernel number.
    • Then check this forum for a day or two to see if any critical problems have been reported for that kernel in TW.
    • If all looks OK, do the `zypper dup` but verify the kernel number again before committing.


    I'm running on a Raspberry Pi-3B. I run Leap 42.3 off an SSD as my "production" system (i.e., I consider it to be stable and not subject to major failures). I run TW off a microSD, and that's the system I'm usually running. And yes, I have done a `zypper dup` only to have the system rendered unbootable. Files are still there, though, so everything's recoverable. And with the help of the really smart and experienced folks who watch these forums, I've generally been able to edit some files, replace others on the Tumbleweed drive (using the Leap system for booting) and boot the updated TW just fine.

    I find TW performs better than Leap on the Raspberry, and I really do use Tumbleweed now as my everyday OS. But I'm not doing critical work on it. I believe it's stable and zippy enough to use as your everyday OS, but I'd advise caution before doing the updates (which, as noted above, are really wholesale updates).

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfi323 View Post
    Btw, if you use btrfs for the system partition (as is the default for a while now), you can easily revert the upgrade in case of problems, as a snapshot will automatically be created before anything is changed.
    That's another thing, the boot menu doesn't allow me to boot a read-only image of snapper. Snapper does create checkpoints before and after I use Yast or zypper, but during a bootup the GRUB screen doesn't offer me a choice to boot to a previous state. This is probably because I messed something up during the installation. Perhaps because I did not accept the proposed partitioning scheme and used the expert partitioner. Or perhaps because I'm using Legacy BIOS emulation instead of EFI. I overrode the proposed partition as I did not want my /home to be in a separate partition- the reasoning was this will limit the space available for installing software. I moved to Legacy emulation as using EFI force-enables secure-boot. Secure-boot apparently works fine now, but sometime in the future something might change and by then Dell might stop providing BIOS updates for this laptop- it's already almost 2 years old now.

    The internal HDD is a tiny 500GB drive. Usable space is about 465GB. Leap 42.3 is the only system installed. The partitioning is:

    boot ext3 1 GB
    SWAP swap 4 GB
    / BtrFS 460.75GB

    Given how stable Leap 42.3 is, this is no big deal.
    It hasn't been is a situation where it failed to boot or failed to load the GUI.
    Plus the "Advanced Options" menu does allow me to select a failsafe mode, which I'm assuming can be helpful in case disaster strikes..


    Thanks for the link explaining how to upgrade, Wolfi. However, I think I'd still post a new thread and list my repos for you people to take a first person look and suggest changes. I'm using some external repos (Firefox Quantum, Team Viewer, Google Chrome, and one more that has this app which lets me create Windows boot disks easily), and I'd like an expert opinion before I mess with those. Plus I also have VMWare Player installed, and there's no repo for this- I downloaded this VMWare bundle file from them, gave execute permissions using chmod, and used ./ to install.
    Must confess, I don't know much about the command line. I'm in the 'learning the basics' phase. Used a tutorial I found on google to install VMWare. But installing a software is not the same as upgrading a whole system - a generic tutorial indeed provides a good guideline, but I'd still not want to mess with the whole system based on a generic guideline.. More so because the experts here in this forum are real experts, unlike Microsoft Technical Support people who just copy/paste the same answer for every problem and the user is basically on his own...

    This is the first time ever I'll be upgrading any Linux based system, I'll try doing this on my own from the second time onward, but I don't feel confident enough to follow a generic guideline- like they say, the first time is the toughest. I do take periodic backups of '/home', if something does go wrong (although unlikely, as you say) I can always perform a fresh install on 15.0 and copy my stuff back. I really hope you won't mind a new thread before I start upgrading to 15.0.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnwinchester View Post
    That's another thing, the boot menu doesn't allow me to boot a read-only image of snapper. Snapper does create checkpoints before and after I use Yast or zypper, but during a bootup the GRUB screen doesn't offer me a choice to boot to a previous state. This is probably because I messed something up during the installation.
    Booting from snapshots is not supported with a separate /boot partition, because the kernel and initrd are on /boot/ and would not match the kernel modules which are in /lib/modules/.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is Tumbleweed stable enough for non-experimental everyday use?

    Thanks everyone for sharing your views.

    As Wolfi said, and as you guys confirmed, TW is stable enough for everyday use.

    But the only reason I was considering TW was I thought this would allow me to use the system without performing periodic zypper dup 's.
    Turns out TW will require way more distribution upgrades than Leap (I should have figured this out from the already available documentation, my bad).
    I have decided to stick with the Leap releases.
    Being a novice, I don't think me adapting TW will benefit anyone. If I face a problem, it's very likely the problem is because of something I did rather than an actual bug in TW- and then when I report the problem, I will create more confusion in the community.

    Things I do with this computer are handled very well by Leap (web browsing, Thunderbird, Audio/Video playback, Video re-encoding using HandBrake, Running virtual machines in VMWare Player, word processing in Libre, KTorrent, DVD burning, etc). There's really no reason for me to upgrade to TW.

    But then the question title was is TW ready for non-experimental use?
    And the definitive answer is- YES it is.
    Once again, thanks for your contributions to this thread, really appreciated

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