What's the difference between a rolling release and a BETA distro?

It seems to me that a rolling release looks more like a continous BETA distro. It’s an rolling release suitable for an inexperienced user? I’m using Tumbleweed and seems ok to me. I can reinstal a previous backup or reinstall everything again, so it looks ok so far…

It seems to me that a rolling release looks more like a continous BETA distro.

Technically you could say that, most rolling release distros like Arch only consider whether a package builds successfully to push it out to users.

The difference is Suse’s OpenQA testing system which is used by OpenSuse that checks whether all of the packages built works together under that snapshot’s particular version of kernel.

This is what stops Arch-like bugs w.r.t. grub that happened last year making devices un-bootable from occurring in OpenSuse. IIRC it wasn’t the first time that had happened to Arch either.

openQA is an automated test tool that makes it possible to test the whole installation process of an operating system. It uses virtual machines to reproduce the process, check the output (both serial console and screen) in every step and send the necessary keystrokes and commands to proceed to the next. openQA can check whether the system can be installed, whether it works properly in ‘live’ mode, whether applications work or whether the system responds as expected to different installation options and commands.


Tumbleweed is definitely not beta, I am using it as an everyday workhorse on my laptop and the same do many users here.
But it is not suitable for every inexperienced user either, and that is up to you to guess.
A “standard” install helps, since it is more likely that OpenQA checked a similar configuration.
Using proprietary drivers (AKA Nvidia etc.) does not help since new kernels are almost a weekly experience and some glitches show up now and then.
Even major problems get fixed in a week or so usually, so if you have a “plan B” for those rare occurrences (whether having a good snapshot to roll back to, a backup system with Leap and the like) and you are willing to learn how to dig out of trouble with the help of these Forums, then Tumbleweed is probably right for you.


A rollback is a good plan. I usually wait for a week or two and then update the system. It will be helpful to have have a forum for this problems, just to check out when I can do the upgrade. I don’t have problems with proprietary drivers (especially Nvidia). I don’t use them, and that is what I like about Linux.

A “Beta distro” means something that is going to likely be a “long running” (fixed versioned packages) supported distro.

Tumbleweed, while it does undergo OpenQA, is ever changing package versions instead of “fixes” to a version. The difference is that products version for more than mere “fixes”, they version for feature changes, and quite often those feature changes would result in end user configuration changes being rendered “invalid” (end user would need to adjust). Which btw, is one of the risks in running a rolling distro like Tumbleweed.

Bad players on my “hit list” for introducing high impact compatibility issues with minor version increments: php, python.

Both of their minor changes (php 8.0 → 8.1, python 3.11 - > 3.12) are equivalent to a major version change of other apps :man_shrugging:
At least for your own python apps and dependencies (not ones shipped by distro), they can be easily installed into a virtual environment using python venv or pipx for installing.

Yes, makes zero sense, their versioning schemes. Why? Especially python, because they talk “python3”, which is so variable… I mean it means nothing.

Same here. I used it on my personal laptop (which also acts as my work machine). I spend 8 hours on it every day (sw engineering) and TW never let me down.

If some issue does arise, in 5 minutes time and up&running again on a previous snapshot, but the focus on quality of TW is IMO unrivaled when it comes to any other rolling distro.

I’d never say it ships “beta quality” software

Python 3 always had virtual env support, so it’s surprising why distros and developers do not take advantage of it and ship python apps in their own virtual env by default.

Python 3.12 rollout has been delayed for a while in OpenSuse due to existing packages breaking, IMHO this should never have been a problem if each package came with its own python version and venv.

Python gets a bad reputation due to this and dependency management, but as a Python enjoyer this is a solved non-issue using poetry for developing/building/packaging and pipx for installing.