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Slashdot Asks: Do You Install Preview Version Of An OS On Your Primary Device? 151

On Monday, Google released a new -- and also the final -- version of the Android N Developer Preview. Android Nougat, which is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system comes with a range of new features and improvements, including a notification panel redesign and additions to Doze power saving. The fifth preview, which is releasing today offers a "near-final" look at Android 7. Interestingly, Apple also released the public beta versions of iOS 10, and macOS Sierra to users earlier this month. Microsoft continues to offer preview builds of Windows 10 OS to enthusiasts.

We were wondering how many of you choose to live on beta version of an operating system on your primary devices. Does anyone here wait for the final version of an operating system to release before making the switch? Also, what does the setup of your office/work computer look like? Anyone who is still on an older version of an operating system because of reliability and compatibility concerns?
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Slashdot Asks: Do You Install Preview Version Of An OS On Your Primary Device?

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  • Hell no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:52PM (#52535591)

    A not yet finalized version of an OS on my primary device? My primary device only does security upgrades- I can't afford for my primary device to go down for days while I try to get it to work. Now my secondary device like a phone I'd consider it- but still I'd probably wait for 2 or 3 releases later before doing so seriously.

    • Re:Hell no (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:20PM (#52535871)

      Of course not.

      I install it on someone else's primary device and gauge completeness by the volume of obscenities and time between repeats.

      • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

        Of course not.

        I install it on someone else's primary device and gauge completeness by the volume of obscenities and time between repeats.

        BWAHAHAHA! It's not just me!.. i have to admit to having done that a couple of times :P

      • ... if it was easy to un-brick a phone be resetting it to factory settings; I'd be much more eager to do so.

        Ideally, in my mind, it'd work just like a PC --- where I could make a backup image of the Factory Disk Image (just in case); and then install whatever I want on it; knowing that it wouldn't be hard to boot from an external device and restore the factory image.

        Anyone know of such a phone --- and that'll be the next one I'd buy.

        • Re:I would, if.... (Score:4, Informative)

          by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2016 @07:22AM (#52539725)

          Ideally, in my mind, it'd work just like a PC --- where I could make a backup image of the Factory Disk Image (just in case); and then install whatever I want on it; knowing that it wouldn't be hard to boot from an external device and restore the factory image. Anyone know of such a phone --- and that'll be the next one I'd buy.

          Any Android Nexus phone. Just hold down a button combination while powering the phone up to enter the bootloader menu, plug the phone in to a PC's USB and you can wipe/flash any of the phone's partitions. It's very easy to re-flash the factory images (which Google provide), or flash custom recovery software and reinstall any custom rom you like.

        • iPhone.

          You always can restore it from the latest back up.

          And I guess that is true for basically every Android based phone, too. I would be amazed if it was not.

    • On ubuntu the OS version does affect the versions of the user space applications that can easily be installed through the package manager. Plus by the time they hit beta, only a few problems are left that can easily be debugged since it's open. Often times I find upgrading early less of a hassle than backporting some package, so I have on occasion upgraded Ubuntu early on my primary device.

    • Does anyone here wait for the final version of an operating system to release before making the switch?

      I've been saying for years that I'm not sure I'd take the dot zero version of Eternal Life.

    • Well I do, but I fully expect a weekend of rebuilding if it goes off. But that also means backing up my primary device to be restored as well.

    • This is a silly question. Developer previews are for developers.

      As an Android developer, I can afford to have my primary cell phone go down, since I have many backup gsm phones I can simply replace it with.

    • isn't that exactly what a multi-boot setup is for? i have 2 root partitions (1 for a stable OS, 1 for a bleeding edge OS). /home is independent of the OS. I spend most of the time in bleeding edge OS but if shit hits the fan and i need to wait for a fix, i have a fallback. eventually, when the bleeding edge stabilises with updates (i.e. debian testing turns into stable), the old stable partition becomes home to a new bleeding edge os.

    • Who has only one primary machine when you can buy a decent PC for a day's fee? Plus it has to bork pretty damned hard to kill your dual-boot OSs and backups.
      • You either earn a lot more than I do, or you buy really cheap PCs. But yeah, I'm not sure why someone would only have one. I have three machines I develop on. A Windows box, OS X, and Linux (with several partitions to test various flavors).

        Preview versions of OSes are for enthusiasts. I'm a developer. I value stability, because my machines are how I earn my living. There's nothing an OS can deliver to me that's so exciting that I can't wait a few months for all the bugs to be shaken out... by the enth

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          Some developers need to know their apps will work correctly on the new stuff. Tracking the betas is how you ensure that your customers aren't dead in the water from launch day until whenever you get around to fixing stuff.

          You could argue that your users shouldn't update until they know their apps will work with the new OS, and you can also go to the beach and stop the tide.

          • That's what QA is for, isn't it? Or if you don't have QA, you could just use VMs or other more constrained test environments. Why risk your development machine(s)? Well, everyone has different priorities, I guess.

    • I work on Android, so my primary device has been running Android N since December, and I run internal development builds which are more like nightly tip-of-tree builds than the much more heavily-tested previews.

      Is running such bleeding edge software on my primary device sometimes painful? Sometimes. All in all it's not really that bad, though. I do keep a backup device around that has Marshmallow on it, just in case, but I've never had to use it.

      I wouldn't worry about running one of the preview releases

    • That depends on what people do with their primary device. I spend its time on Slashdot. If my primary device goes down for days then it's okay with me. Affordability doesn't come into it since it's not my work computer.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:55PM (#52535605)
    I run lots of beta software (Firefox Nightly, Chrome Dev, Thunderbird Early), but I avoid doing it for the OS. Why? If my email client or browser's too buggy, I can uninstall them and roll back to the stable channel. On the other hand, fixing a computer that won't boot or having some other highly annoying problem takes just way too much of my time on my primary device.
  • Of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:57PM (#52535641)

    I need to have confidence that I can continue my normal workflows on my primary machine.

    • Re:Of course not (Score:5, Informative)

      by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @04:50PM (#52536631)

      Use btrfs with a daily cronjob to snapshot /, have /home on a separate subvolume (also snapshotted, but for a different reason). Anything goes wrong, you roll back / to yesterday. Want a version from two months ago? All it takes is a reboot and type subvol=sys-2016-05-18 on the grub command line. That's the key to comfortably running unstable...

      • That would work, but why would I go to all the trouble when I can just use the release version?

  • by bytestorm ( 1296659 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:58PM (#52535657)
    Hire actual QA. Showstopping bugs prevent me from getting shit done. Looking at you, Windows Insider program.
    • Agree. I have two systems in the Insider program but neither are my main machine. It's actually part of the agreement you click is that you won't be installing it on your main machine.

    • There are too many use cases to accurately cover them all. App interactions with the system on top of new APIs--no company could afford to hire that many people to test all the possibilities.

      The developer and public betas are a good compromise. They're opt in. I get a chance to use stuff first and play with it, which is something that I like (I'm the guy that always loved patch notes day in WoW or Diablo 3), and you get a less buggy OS. I think we can all win here.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @06:36PM (#52537435)

      That is simply not possible. Windows is an OS that is used in such a wide variety of ways in such a wide variety of hardware configurations that if we waited for them to do full QA then we'll never see another version of windows.

      I say they should do a full QA.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Not just Windows. EVERYTHING! :(

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:58PM (#52535665)

    This is what VMs or test devices are for

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:58PM (#52535669) Journal

    I'm not an "OS dilettante dabbler", harking back to the BSD trolls of the past.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    on my work hackintosh - i won't risk updating mid-project and haven't had the time either since ML was still new. but this year will be the year :-)

  • Never (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sentiblue ( 3535839 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @02:59PM (#52535677)
    I make the money to feed my family on my macbook pro... so no I will never install the beta OSX on the laptop.

    Even when the OS is released as GA, I still wait until the first patch to install it.
  • Beta versions of Linux Mint and Neon are really not a problem. Risky, yes. Especially if you don't know what you're doing. But, with proper backups, disk partitioning, etc., neither Mint nor Neon has bit back. I've never been able to say the same thing about Windows, even years after the release was "final".
    • Same usually ; these releases used to be called RC not Beta. But with Mint 18 there's a jump to a "weird" version of Ubuntu (systemd instead of upstart, just observing that this is the biggest changed I've ever seen), GTK3 went really rogue so little stupid things like the Gnome Minesweeper and games will be crapified.

      So for the first time I feel like waiting for 18.1, although it's just that I'd rather get a new hard drive to install the new OS on and leave the older one alone.

    • But, with proper backups, disk partitioning, etc., neither Mint nor Neon has bit back.

      I would imagine both of those have stable versions of the Linux Kernel, even if they are running some experimental software on top.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:04PM (#52535733)

    Depends on your definition of "Primary". Primary at work? Heck no. I just moved from Windows 7 a few weeks ago. I'm long past "ooh shiny" at work and as long as something works I'm happy to apply security patches only.

    At home? Yeah I don't care. The stuff I do on a home computer is all run of the mill crap: internet/social networking, video games, and other stuff that's either not too critical or can be done from a browser.

    I've got 2 desktops (one of which I'd consider my "primary" device at home), a laptop, 4 internet capable game consoles, my phone, and two tablets laying around at home. If any one of them is down I can make it by with the other devices for as long as I need until I get it fixed. Heck if I got really desperate I've also got a pair of Raspberry Pi's setting around too that will technically run a Linux desktop - just painfully slow.

    Really with $50 tablets and $200 laptops these days computing has gotten so cheap that fully functional computers have gotten as cheap as child's toys.

    • Pretty much the same. I don't have a primary computer that has to be working all the time. No work is relying on my "primary machine". Usually don't reinstall all the time but nothing stops me.

      But a spare laptop usually works quite well for that too. :)

  • by koinu ( 472851 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:05PM (#52535737)
    On FreeBSD I have already tried the 11.0 development preview (aka CURRENT) using a boot environment (beadm). It's very easy and intuitive.
  • by rwven ( 663186 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:05PM (#52535739)

    I used to get the fast track insider builds on my work machine, but I got tired of constantly having to troubleshoot stuff that got broken along the way. It became really annoying to constantly have to reinstall visual studio problems, troubleshoot vbox issues, etc.

    Ultimately I just formatted the machine and went back to the standard production build.

  • Seems like a tremendous waste of time and effort. Why would I want to test something for some company for free?
    • Usually, because of the new features. Often, they are
      A) cool / fun - letting you do neat stuff the device couldn't do (or at least not easily) before
      B) useful / productive - even if you spend some time debugging, you can sometimes make back that time by using those new features to get stuff done faster
      C) more secure - while pre-release software can have (new) security bugs as well as other kinds of bugs, defense-in-depth type features often aren't rolled out in minor updates, and OS security features can he

    • I can kind of understand that view, but I willingly test the software I use myself because I am the only one I trust to verify that the product meets my standards.

      You have no idea who is doing QA at some of these companies. The ones I personally know drink even more than I do and I wouldn't trust them to tie their own shoelaces without fucking it up at least twice.

  • Early Adopter? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Holi ( 250190 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:18PM (#52535843)
    Nope, as I have gotten older I find I prefer my devices and computers to work instead of having the bragging rights to the new shiny,
    • Nope, as I have gotten older I find I prefer my devices and computers to work instead of having the bragging rights to the new shiny,

      That's funny. These days I find myself jumping on to preview streams in an attempt to find solutions to long standing bugs which piss me off. That's the reason I installed Windows 10's Insider editions. Windows 8.1 was giving me so much grief as the current "stable" version that it couldn't possibly be much worse.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Ditto. I brag about how old my systems and setups are like VGA, Windows XP, analog, etc. that are still working today! ;)

  • I would say that if you do, your primary work is not important enough.

    Pretty much the people I know at "the cutting edge" are people who don't really actually ever "use" their machines. Like the people who spend thousands on overclocking and so on, as soon as they've done it, they 3DMark it and on to the next build. Actually PLAYING GAMES with such a machine is secondary to their usage.

    In the same way, if you can afford to install untested software "to see what it's like" on your PRIMARY machine, then you

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    The preview versions just install themselves [cnet.com].

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zamboni1138 ( 308944 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @03:21PM (#52535883)

    No. This is what virtual machines are for. Or an older box you might have laying around.

    • by erice ( 13380 )

      No. This is what virtual machines are for. Or an older box you might have laying around.

      Unfortunately, the older boxes don't generally run the preview or even the current stable. Short of physical damage that is generally why they are not primary devices any more.

      Of course, there are people who buy a new phone every six months. I think they are crazy but they might be the kind of crazy who install preview versions of mobile operating systems.

      • I have a 10 year old Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop with a "Ready for Vista" sticker on it running Windows 10 that says otherwise.

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          I have a 10 year old Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop with a "Ready for Vista" sticker on it running Windows 10 that says otherwise.

          Indeed. It says that you did not read or did not understand the summary. This article is about mobile devices (phones and tablets) not desktop computers. Hence, the Android example and calling them "devices" instead of "computers".

          Running modern OS's on old desktop hardware is not all that difficult as long as the components are popular and well supported (more obscure components may not have drivers available for modern OS's).

          However, the same can not be said for mobile devices. Even a three year old p

  • If there's some specific feature I need for something or other, then yes.

    That almost never happens.

  • Debian "testing" is technically a preview but is going to be more stable than most OSes.
  • I have a Win (various), Mac, Linux and Chromebook devices which I install OS (as well as browser) previews on to test my software on and hopefully give me a bit of runway to report a problem in an upcoming release. As a few others have noted, my primary (development) systems have stable versions of the OSes in which I review all updates and only install security patches.

    If somebody is so irresponsible and so chained to the idea of being on the bleeding edge that you put previews on your primary machines, then I wouldn't trust you with my company's software.

    Who is this "We" that were wondering in the question? Why would you think that serious professionals (or even semi-serious hackers) would do such a, frankly stupid, thing?

  • I've been on the Insider fast ring for a long time. Never had any real issues. My thinking is that if I just download the preview and spin a VM up from it, I won't use it very much. In that case, I may as well just wait until GA.
  • Office device (laptop): Fedora OS Stable (which like to think of bleeding edge) Mobile device (Nexus phone): Android N (eeeeeeeasy does it, but first-to-market)
  • Has anyone else noticed the ads here have started to turn a bit sleazy? They look like they belong on a click bait site.
  • I do it from time to time. I'm running MacOS Sierra at the moment on my notebook. I'm not the average user but I'm nicely set up to be able to clone off my systems quickly (Win and Mac) to try out betas. If the beta experience turns out to be a disaster I simply restore an image and put my profile back. With SSDs it's a 15-20 minute process. If you're going to beta test something, you're not going to get a good test in unless it's your primary system. You'll know pretty fast if you need to switch back or n
  • I installed the version before this. Why? Because A, I wouldn't use a touch device to do anything of real importance anyway (so the danger of not being able to browse 9gag on the toilet is quite survivable if worse should come to worst) and B, the last version pissed me off anyway and lo and behold, this version actually did bring soothing to my life.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @04:10PM (#52536341) Homepage Journal

    The final version IS a beta.

  • I switched from Snow Leopard to Maveriks roughly 2 years ago, and only because a piece of software - I think it was Kaleidoscope - didn't work with Snow Leopard anymore. Maveriks is staying. Don't see me moving to El Capitan with my 2011 MB Air anytime soon.
    As for my Linux Workstation Laptop: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS it still is. I might upgrade within the next 10 months or so.

    I stick with tried, true and mature Software for all mission critical stuff. It's annoying enough as it is upgrading from one version to the

  • Sometimes the shit doesn’t hit the fan until after the update is released into the wild. Every time a new Ubuntu or Mac OS X comes out, I read all about it and keep googling for problems that people report. After I see that most of the problems have died then, then I make off-schedule backups and then install the update.

  • I made that mistake with iOS 7 -- never again. It's cool to play with, but I only do it on a development device now.
  • Bathtub gin (Score:4, Funny)

    by mmdurrant ( 638055 ) on Monday July 18, 2016 @04:49PM (#52536623)
    Do you test your moonshine by drinking it? Hell no. You give a jar to a friend and watch for symptoms of methanol poisoning.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      Most good stillers knew to distill off the methanol by reducing the still temp to 150F, so the methanol would boil off yet the ethanol would not.

  • I'm retired, so my primary device is my home desktop. I run Fedora Linux on both my desktop and my laptop, and it's a bleeding edge testbed for RedHat, so in that sense, even the final version of each release is a "preview version." Of course, I never upgrade both of them at the same time, so that if and when something goes wrong, I'm not completely hosed.
  • My Coworker did this on Windows 8. This was done mostly so that he could get used to the OS long before others started using it so he could field questions if need be. However, this was done after a full system backup, image, which allowed him to back out of it a few days later after he had enough of the Iron Maiden. If you don't do this to your primary device you've defeated the purpose of a Preview Edition. If you don't use the preview regularly then you're not actually Previewing it, and the only device
  • I only have one phone, and I install new OSes on it.

    I used to install the developer previews, but I don't actually do any development (I was paying the $99 for the dev account because I really was going to write something and submit it...eventually) and frankly, those were too buggy even for me.

    Now I do the public betas. I love the new features (I love patch notes day for OSes and games like WoW or Diablo 3) and they're stable enough that I'm not going insane. Battery life is markedly worse, and there are s

  • I've run OSX so, yes...

  • My primary machine runs dos.
    • you're a machinist?

      some cnc software requires win 95 or 98, but I'd shy away from that bleeding edge crap

  • Windows 10 was purposely released feature incomplete. Which technically makes it Alpha software.
    Windows 10 cannot be Beta software, because Beta is supposed to be feature complete, just fixing bugs, and boy is it buggy!

    I had a problem the other day on my Surface Pro 3 where the Start Menu would not open up. Also the notification centre and WiFi would not open either. Turns out this is form a common bug where Windows 10 will corrupt the core OS files. They have a fix for it that is really easy to do. You
  • I have dual-booted my home desktop before. Worst case scenario, I have to manually tinker with the boot loader to get back to my original OS.

    On a work or mobile device? No way.

    My cell phone is my only phone, so I'm not risking the hassle. I could slap my SIM into a $10 special in an emergency, but I'd rather not.

    And at work, I'm not getting paid to play with new shiny things---or if I am, there is a virtual lab for it.

  • Stay away from Windows 10 insider builds.

    I was using an insider build that worked okay, then tried upgrading to the next build in the "slow" track, and it completely broke my wifi, then I reverted back to the earlier insider build. So far, no real problems.

    Then Microsoft decided that insider builds should expire, and become non-functional. You get a BSOD every 4 hours as a way of reminding you to not use old insider builds.

    The built-in Windows Update for insider builds was also broken since I had been mes

    • Were your drivers up to date to begin with?

      Back in August, Windows 10, general release, had a trouble free upgrade from 7 but then broke a few weeks later, blue screening after which I had to manually update the wifi drivers from a zip file.

  • What is a primary device? It's 2016
  • Frankly stable software isn't that "stable". For instance, I have an iPad running iOS 9 that crashes multiple times a day. I often install beta software because either way at the end of the day I'm still going to be dealing with lots of bugs. Might as well as be on the bleeding edge then.
  • I did and my computer (utility server) literally freezes every two hours until I rebuild it.. Yeah my bad :/ (2K10IP)

  • "Do You Install Preview Version Of An OS On Your Primary Device?"
    Yes and no. From Microsoft and Apple? Hell no. Betas of my chosen Linux distro and nightly releases of my favorite Andoird ROM? Hell yeah, all the time.
  • I got bored of waiting for stable Android L roms but didn't want to go back to stock so switched to CM12 nightlies. Didn't have a single issue for all the time it was on nightlies until they got to stable releases of 12 and 13. Depending on how long N takes I might switch to CM14 nightlies when they arrive.

  • ...'nuff said.
  • Hell YES.

    I'm a dev. I'm not afraid of some shit breaking. The day that I'm afraid of shit breaking on machines which only affect me (and have no alternative plan!), I should quit being a dev. Because chances are, that shit broke because of me (:

    But honestly, though, I use the Win10 fast ring on my work machine (and 1/2 the dual-boot at home). Updates at least once a week -- and the current builds boot mofo fast and are more responsive -- so I'm getting a pay-off.
    If something goes super-south, I can always f

  • Although I keep old/current versions of OSs (Windows 7, Ubuntu 16.04, and Fedora 24) on my desktop PC just in case something goes wrong, my prmary OS are Fedora Rawhide, Ubuntu 16.10 dev, and the latest build of Win 10 I've happened to install
  • I do run beta versions of the Chrome OS on my primary computers because it is more stable in beta than other operating systems. I do keep a couple of back-up computers on stable but have only used them once in two years. Hows' that for reliability.
  • Try it, if you don't like it just reflash with production ROM and restore app data from backup. Experimenting is not a big deal for modern smart phones that back up everything to the cloud. Just don't install a prerelease and head for vacation without testing battery life and camera for a few days.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal