How To Benefit From Linux Advancements Now Rather Than Later

Danny Stieben 26-08-2014

Linux development can actually get pretty exciting at times, especially when there are some major changes in a piece of software that can greatly benefit you. However, you may be preventing yourself from gaining access to those changes if you don’t make the right decisions.


Here’s how you can start being on the cutting edge of Linux software, and why you might want to do so.

Why Be On The Cutting Edge?

The excitement of Linux development can best be described with some theoretical examples. Let’s say that your laptop is either experiencing poor battery life or poor performance in gaming due to some bugs in the graphics driver. When the Linux kernel developers apply patches to the kernel What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version? Linux is an operating system, right? Well, not exactly! It's actually a kernel. But what is the Linux kernel? Read More that fix the performance issues and improve battery life, common sense might say that you should try to get your hands on that new kernel 5 Reasons Why You Should Update Your Kernel Often [Linux] If you're using a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora, you're also using the Linux kernel, the core that actually makes your distribution a Linux distribution. Your distribution constantly asks you to update your kernel.... Read More so that you can enjoy those improvements.


However, a handful of distributions absolutely refuse to upgrade kernels (except for security bugs) during the span of a single distribution release. This means that for these distributions, you’ll have to wait until the next distribution release before you can enjoy the new kernel. For Ubuntu users, this could mean waiting up to six months, or even longer if you’re a Debian user. The distribution developers refrain from kernel upgrades because it risks stability, but there has to be a reason why the upstream kernel developers consider the kernel to be stable, right? It’s got to be stable enough for every day use, and my own experience suggests that there’s little point in waiting until your distribution’s developers finally trust the newer kernel.



There are plenty of other little examples that can concern other software. For example, LibreOffice 4.3 was recently released and it even fixes a bug that’s been around for over 11 years. However, Ubuntu users are still stuck on LibreOffice 4.2 and likely won’t be upgraded until a much later date, or by the next distribution release at the latest. Why wait when you could use the newer version now and enjoy those bug fixes?

How To Get To The Cutting Edge

So now that you know why you might want to consider living on the cutting edge, how do you do it? You must either choose a cutting edge distribution, or you must find ways to fortify your software sources to provide more cutting edge versions than what’s offered in your distribution’s repositories.

Choose The Right Distribution


The easier option (if you plan to do this from the beginning, at least) is to choose a cutting edge distribution. My recommendation for this would be Arch Linux, which is a rolling release distribution that just updates software as new versions are released upstream Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More . Arch is very up-to-date in this regard and makes it easy to remain on the cutting edge throughout the entire system and on all installed applications, not just some bits and pieces. Was a new kernel released? You’ll get it quickly. A new graphics driver? Just wait a few days at most and you’ll get it. New version of LibreOffice? You won’t have to wait months to get it.


The only downside to Arch Linux is that it’s difficult to set up because you start out with a very minimal base and work your way up. It’s definitely worth the effort, but some people may not want to have to put in the effort or they don’t understand all that they need to do to correctly configure their system. If Arch Linux isn’t up your alley, my next suggestion would be a distribution like Fedora. While Fedora doesn’t operate on a rolling release model, it does have a higher tendency to update software to new major versions within a release cycle, including the kernel. It’s a pretty close second as far as how cutting edge you can get.

Make The Best Of Your Current Distro


If neither of those are good for you, then you might as well just use Ubuntu or a derivative. You can then remain on the cutting edge by adding plenty of PPAs (Personal Package Archives) to your system. Be sure to check if there’s a PPA for a piece of software What Is An Ubuntu PPA & Why Would I Want To Use One? [Technology Explained] Read More that you regularly use and add it.

For example, the LibreOffice PPA allows Ubuntu users to upgrade to LibreOffice 4.3 even though the Ubuntu repositories don’t offer it. There’s also the GetApps repository for additional software and newer versions, and the Oibaf PPA for updated graphics drivers. Read about a few more in our listing of 7 useful PPAs you should add Need More, Or Updated, Software? Try These 7 Ubuntu PPAs Read More .


There’s no direct PPA for kernels on Ubuntu, but you can visit this page, choose the kernel you want (scroll all the way down for the newest ones) and then install the packages yourself (the kernel for your architecture, the header for your architecture, and the header for all architectures — all three files in the generic variant and not the low latency variant). Doing this takes a bit of elbow grease, and there’s no way to automate updating your kernel in this manner aside from writing your own script, but it will allow you to benefit from any changes found in that newer version.

Are You Cutting Edge?

All in all, trying out the cutting edge can provide plenty of benefits to you sooner rather than later. Best of all, cutting edge still gives you a reasonable expectation of stability, unlike bleeding edge which means that you’re trying out code basically right as it’s being typed out and therefore have no expectation of stability.

The two general methods are the best ways of getting closer to the cutting edge, so try them out if you’re interested.

Was there a method I missed out on? Do you think being on the cutting edge is or isn’t worth it? Let us know in the comments!


Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. fedge
    March 3, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Also, remember that you can simply recompile the software from source as well.

  2. jeff
    September 1, 2014 at 3:06 am

    yes, that is why it is unstable, however, fixes come much quicker. i use stable on servers and testing on my lap and desk tops.

    • Jardi
      September 2, 2014 at 4:03 am

      I use Testing in my laptop all the time, and it my system has broken just once a several months ago and it had to do with the Debian switch to Systemd that didn't want to work with my LVM set up.
      The thing with using Testing is that you should be willing to deal with those sort of problems, and for me it makes it even more fun.

  3. jeff
    August 28, 2014 at 2:22 am

    if you want to run cutting edge use debian sid or testing which is currently jessie. If you keep your sources at testing or sid you will have a rolling release. however, if you want to learn the "nuts and bolts" of linux I would suggest trying slackware.

    • Danny S
      August 31, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Isn't there a high chance that your system will break if you keep it on sid all the time?

  4. Adam
    August 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    If she made $19,941.00 last month, at $86.00 per hour, she would have worked 231.87 hours. That's more than "a few hours". If I can't make $20k in a month working only 5 hours total, why even bother?

  5. William Peckham
    August 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Want more cutting edge from a well established distro that does not make you jump through the (very worthwhile ARCH hoops? Try VSIDO on for size. Neat, fast, and based upon Debian SID.
    Check out for discussion, screenshots, links, downloads, and friendly people.

    • Danny S
      August 31, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      I've never heard of it before! I suppose I need to check it out then.

  6. Emile H
    August 27, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Okay I take that back, lol Mr Hoffman isn't the one it must've been you all along Danny ... new avi forgive me... either way just letting you know I apreciate everything you post about linux ...Thank you!!

    • Danny S
      August 31, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      Haha I know I hadn't changed my avatar in forever. I hope you enjoy the new one! :P

    • Emile H
      September 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

      You look good brother... the old one used to look like a punk star lol

  7. Emile Hampton
    August 27, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Manjaro is the easiest Arch distro out there... if you know how to use Ubuntu or any other Linux distro you pretty much know how to use Manjaro... it's a delight ... I'm an Elementary fan I'm currently using Elementary Freya beta but if you want cutting edge with simplicity elegant and consistency you can't go wrong with Manjaro ... if you love beauty and speed and elegance i suggest Elementary!!! Thx for your linux tips bruhhh Chris Hoffman was usually postung stuff about Linux on MuO i don't see him posting here anymore now it looks like you're the only one carrying Linux on your back... (: it's much appreciated.

    • dragonmouth
      August 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Being able to run Linux programs and knowing Linux are two very different things, just as running MS Office does not qualify one as a Windows guru. OTOH, installing Arch or Gentoo and then creating a complete system does teach one Linux. Ubuntu, Elementary, Mint, Zorin and other *buntu-based distros allow one to run Linux programs. It takes a lot of hard work to learn Linux using those distros.

    • Emile H
      August 28, 2014 at 5:23 am

      I don't know what your point is, I didn't say anything about being a guru or being "Better than people" Thanks for clearing that up!! ... My point is, since Danny said "The only downside to Arch Linux is that it’s difficult to set up because you start out with a very minimal base and work your way up." and in my "LIMITED, NEOPHYTE, NON-EXPERT" experiance that statment scares beginners from trying Arch, so I was just reminding readers another simpler option that Danny forgot to mention to try Arch and that is Manjaro, and trying to thank the writer in the process. If you commented just to comment, let's leave it at that, or if you think Manjaro is complicated for biggners like myself you can explain it to us from your Guristic experiance. Wasn't the purpose of this site to make it easier for non-maestro like myself?? I really don't get it, if that comment was offending to the intellectuals then by all means my sincerest apologies, forgive me your highness!!

    • Emile H
      August 28, 2014 at 5:55 am

      *beginners ... *Guruistic

    • Danny S
      August 31, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      I probably need to get some more experience with Manjaro so that I can start recommending it as the simpler way to use Arch. I'll make it a goal to do that soon.

      And thanks! Chris Hoffman actually did write a lot of Linux articles, but that was several years ago. Since then it has mostly been me. I'm glad that you enjoy my articles though! Feel free to email me about anything you'd like to read about!

    • Emile H
      September 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

      I'll wait to read your manjaro ex[periance... you doing great, I couldn't ask for more... keep up the good work, God bless!

  8. dragonmouth
    August 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I notice you omiited to mention that PPAs only work with Ubuntu-based distros. Users of Gentoo, Slackware, SUSE and Mageia and derived distros are out of luck. Even for users of Debian-based distros it is hard to use PPAs.

    • AllNixedUp
      August 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Not sure about Slackware or Gentoo, but Mageia has their Culdrin, that is edge (very unstable at times IIRC). Suse has Factory, and now they are calling that their rolling release, that has gotten more stable -ish. Suse also has their OBS that can have more 'edge' software. Debian has their Testing and unstable. You can find a few distros using testing, and is generally pretty stable.

    • Danny S
      August 31, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      I suppose that I didn't mention that fact as directly as I possibly should have. But I did recommend using Ubuntu because there are so many PPAs. But other distros do have their own systems too. AllNixedUp already mentioned quite a few, and Fedora also has their COPR repositories.