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How to treat questions on obsolete Fedora versions ?

asked 2015-01-23 14:33:25 -0500

gjanssens gravatar image

updated 2015-01-23 20:20:42 -0500

mether gravatar image

Ask Fedora has loads of questions asked which state the issue happens on obsolete Fedora versions. What should be done with these questions ?

For example I recently posted an answer to a question related to Fedora 18.

Immediately thereafter someone else closed with the comment that F18 and F19 are EOL and no longer supported. There are plenty of such questions around. What should happen with them ?

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Upgrade to Fedora 20 or 21...

davidva gravatar imagedavidva ( 2015-01-23 19:13:23 -0500 )edit

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answered 2015-01-23 16:40:28 -0500

cobra gravatar image

updated 2015-01-23 16:46:28 -0500

Fedora moves on. But not so quickly that a question for Fedora 18 or 17 (or any other version) is immediately out of date immediately when that version goes out of support.

I find it somewhat embarrassing when I read a question where someone is asking about a recently-expired version of Fedora and the first response is 'that version of Fedora is no longer supported, you need to upgrade'. While that is technically true, forcing a user to upgrade their version of Fedora only to experience exactly the same issue in the newest release is neither helpful nor encouraging for our less-experienced users.

Yes, we should encourage users to upgrade. But it should be exactly that - encouragement - it should not be a stick to force an upgrade by withholding any help when things go wrong. Our first priority is to help users who are struggling to use a Linux system that we know well.

Most of us providing help here know if an issue is still a problem on the latest versions, or at least can likely guess even if it means taking a look at the official documentation from time to time. We might even be able to try to reproduce the error on our own rig, to see if it's fixed yet - we all keep our systems up-to-date, don't we?

The bottom line here is that we should encourage users to upgrade wherever we can. We must never use 'upgrade to the latest version before we'll help' instead of a proper answer unless we know already that the problem is definitely fixed in a newer version, and always try to lead the user through the process so that they come out the other end happier with their ability to manage their Linux system, more willing to investigate problems more deeply, and more confident about going through the upgrade without any additional help immediately to hand.

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answered 2015-01-23 21:58:35 -0500

$ dnf repolist
repo id           repo name                   status
*rawhide          Fedora - Rawhide - Developm 43,880

Almost forty four thousand packages and subpackages, and growing. That's a whole lot of developer time. Thousands of people working every day deliver improved software to users of Fedora and other Linux distributions. Bugs are getting fixed, experiences improved, security enhanced. Fedora gives you the latest packages first to represent the best work these developers have to offer.

Deciding to stay on an EOL Fedora release means you're deciding not to take advantage of the improvements that developers have made freely available for you. Reporting problems with software on EOL releases anyway ignores all that effort, and you're also asking your fellow users on Ask Fedora, or Fedoraforum, or wherever, to devote additional effort. The time that others invest in helping you, combined with the time invested by developers to improve their code, very quickly accumulates to far more than the time and effort it would take you to upgrade.

Should we help users upgrade? Yes, absolutely. Should we help them upgrade, even when they have very old installations with complex configurations of software that has dramatically changed? Of course, and even better, they have a clear picture of their end goals. Asking how to do something new on an old release, or even asking for help resolving a bug, is different - the user is investing themselves in a dead end, where an upgrade would probably require less effort in the long run.

There will be questions about old releases that apply to current releases. If you encounter a question that's similar to something you're going through, and it's flagged as off topic or tagged for the old release, jump in anyway and make it relevant to today's Fedora. If you have enough karma, feel free to retag and edit to make the question more universal, or tag myself or another moderator to do so. We don't need to have redundant questions for things that haven't changed. Conversely, if you have an old release and find information for a newer release that applies, great. You've solved your probem, and you have one less barrier to upgrading.

Fedora supports the current and previous release. If you're one behind, and stuck in a bad spot, I might offer my time to help you get to a point where it's comfortable to upgrade. If you're too far behind, I'm far less likely to devote my time to help you avoid spending a little more of your own time upgrading. If you want help upgrading, ask! Others might feel differently, and that's fine, to a point, but this is how I'll personally be approaching your EOL question.

PS: Although I started off with a command from rawhide, no, I don't think that's appropriate here either.

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answered 2015-01-23 16:21:19 -0500

sideburns gravatar image

That's an excellent question. There are a number of on-line support forums for Fedora, and at least one of them, the Fedora Forum, has a board specifically dedicated to such things. My understanding is that ask.fedora is for help on current versions of Fedora, which is why one of the standard reasons for closing a question is that it "is out of date or no longer relevant." My personal way of dealing with such questions is to suggest that the poster upgrade to a more recent version, then close the question unless there's something about the issue that deserves further discussion. If, however, the question is several years old, I'll close it without hesitation. Other moderators may have different policies, but that's mine. And, if I see that another moderator has commented on such a question but not closed it, I'll respect their decision and leave it open.

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Asked: 2015-01-23 14:33:25 -0500

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