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Problem

From Time to time, I see questions with what I think are easy answers, like Manually compile and add module r8169 (and others), and I think OK, I use Gentoo, and compile my own kernel often so let's tailor a solution to Debian, and earn some easy reputation because I like it here, and want to become a moderator etc.

I start to formulate and research my answer to type up and realize that Debian 6.0 (from the comment), a.k.a Squeeze will be EOL soon.

From DebianSqueeze:

Releases

...

  • 2014-07-19 : Updated (6.0.10) (press release).
  • 2016-02-06 : End of LTS security updates for i386 and amd64 (five years after initial release)

Hmmm, even the LTS will be gone... Should I continue and answer his question, or let the security conscious user in me loose, and do more than "gently urge?"


Reasoning

First the Definition via Wikipedia:

"End-of-life" (EOL) is a term used with respect to a product supplied to customers, indicating that the product is in the end of its useful life (from the vendor's point of view), and a vendor intends to stop marketing, selling, or sustaining it. (The vendor may simply intend to limit or end support for the product.)

I realize that users/readers come here because in some cases the StackExchange Community is the only place that particular reader can find an answer, but I'm asking for advice because although software is about freedom, using an EOL distribution can cause problems on many fronts, including but not limited to:

  1. No Vendor Support
  2. Security Issues
  3. Only update mechanism is backports. If those break, you're up a creek anyway.
  4. Outdated Software. See Items 2 and 3.
  5. Probably Others, I can't think of

Options

  1. AskUbuntu has tags separated by version - I expect that there, as some Ubuntu users are new to the distribution, and don't know the proper upgrade path: (A mod can edit this later with a report from AskUbuntu)

    Wow, 10,000 Questions we could dump because Ubuntu Support Ended! Do we need a similar system, ie tagging by version? For all the distros we answer questions for? Lots of work because we answer more than Ubuntu based questions....

  2. Do we "gently push" posters to upgrade as I did via comment? Chances are the driver the OP wants is in a newer 3.x kernel, and already created in the RAM Disk my answer will involve.

  3. I recommend tag creation, i.e. eol-ubuntu, eol-redhat, eol-fedora, eol-debian and others, for questions dealing with EOL Support. This tag tells answer writers that older documentation may be needed, and it also tells answer writers that they not receive an answer, and helps comment writers and editors with Option 2. In the same way, we'll end up with 26,000+ questions that may or may not end up answered, but at least some posters may upgrade.

  • 5
    You do realise that signing off as "Future Mod" is the surest way to guarantee that no-one will vote for you? – jasonwryan Jun 25 '15 at 19:50
  • @jasonwryan I have no problem stating my intentions here as I'm only asking for advice. As for my technical prowess that reputation should speak for itself – eyoung100 Jun 25 '15 at 21:05
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    I took out the signature since it's just deflecting from your question(s). – slm Jun 26 '15 at 8:07
  • If we were to have EOL-tags for older versions, we'd need to spend time re-tagging questions when versions get EOL:ed. – Jenny D Jul 26 '15 at 17:41
  • @JennyD What's wrong with that?? The purpose of the tag is/was to get readers to become early to middle adopters of their OS. So many questions I see here, from "I need to compile ..." to "My ... isn't supported." could be fixed if readers would at least attempt to follow the upgrade path offered by their particular distribution. – eyoung100 Jul 26 '15 at 18:01
  • @eyoung100 A change that generates a lot of work should have a matching improvement in the usability of the site. I'm not sure this does. I'm also not sure that the purpose of this site is to make people upgrade their OSes. – Jenny D Jul 26 '15 at 18:19
  • @JennyD I'm not making people upgrade. The choice is still theirs to make, but I'd like that option. Consider the other extreme: Do you know anyone still using Windows 3.1/Win95? At some point, the work required to keep an OS that old going outweighs the level of usefulness. The same applies to any OS. While it's the users choice when the scale tips, I have no problem being blunt and telling a user it's time to upgrade in order to help them start the "tipping" process. – eyoung100 Jul 26 '15 at 18:29
  • You said that the point of the tags is to get readers to adopt later versions of their OS... (And yes, I actually do know a few persons using Win95. They have their reasons. Personally, I don't use Windows at all, though.) But note that I'm not arguing against you, I am merely not convinced by your arguments. – Jenny D Jul 26 '15 at 20:25
  • @JennyD That's fair, should I try to convince you via chat? – eyoung100 Jul 26 '15 at 20:33
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We should not dump any questions and certainly not questions from a non-EOL version of Ubuntu (12.04 has support until 2017, thank you very much). Having less questions only makes sense if that makes it easier to find relevant questions/answers for everybody, not when it makes it impossible to find answers for some people.

Some questions on U&L are version specific, others are not. Even if a specific version of the distribution was mentioned that might be just information the OP thought might make a difference. Each and every single question should be checked to make sure that the problem is indeed version specific. That means checking if the behaviour differs from later versions of that OS. And if it does, should we add to a question because 12.04 has the same problem and is not EOL (yet)? And what about ? I would not want to add the in that case, and there might not be room for it anyway.

I think the indication in the text, combined with how old the post is is enough information and we don't need to use the limited 5 spot tag info for EOL tag. Inexperienced users are anyway more likely to post a new question than to find an answer to a post relevant only to an EOL version of their OS.

It is of course OK to comment to an OP that her/his OS is EOL. It is their decision to live with the risks and other inconveniences (ever tried to install additional software on a EOL version of Ubuntu?). Legacy software often requires an old machine to keep things running. Therefore we shouldn't go further than pointing out the EOL status and its potential risks in a comment.

BTW Your moderator election score on U&L is 12/40, so there is still some room for improvement.

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