14

As of now we have:

  1. × 23
  2. × 8
  3. × 104
  4. × 433
  5. × 904
  6. × 252
  7. × 206
  8. × 131
  9. × 798
  10. × 94
  11. × 55
  12. × 29
  13. × 547
  14. × 32
  15. × 22
  16. × 478
  17. × 25
  18. × 281
  19. × 10

Unlike Windows, Ubuntu version don't vary much. They only vary in packages available and support cycle. Solution that's working in Ubuntu 11.04 has chances that it would work on 16.04 too unless it's a bug.

So, in my opinion, we can throw away make the above tags synonyms of which currently has 18065 questions since questioner generally mention the version they are using. If they don't, we can always ask the questioner to mention their Ubuntu version. This merging would also help tag watchers to cut down their current list to a single tag and future creation of , can be stopped.

On a side note: Multiple tags can become obstacle in earning that golden tag badge :(

18

I would argue that the version is actually often important - there have been significant changes through the versions and I certainly would not expect any but the most generic (as in, "would apply to any Linux distro") answers for a ten year old version to work perfectly on a recent release.

Just major changes off the top of my head, there's the recent netplan change invalidating a good chunk of networking questions/answers, there's the change to upstart and then systemd making many service-related questions old-version specific, the change to Unity and then back to GNOME, the move to Wayland and then back to XOrg, etc..

But there may be value in reducing the number of tags. If retagging is done, the the version number must be retained, which means manual retagging and going through each question to insert the version into the question text if necessary. An automatic tag merge/synonym risks losing this version information from questions that do need it.

  • Also, perhaps the LTS tags should be kept, as those versions are likely to exist longer on servers. – Bob Jun 13 at 8:35
  • None of those are linked to an Ubuntu version though, they're mostly linked to the kernel and kernel versions change and can be manually changed by the user. Same goes for desktop environments. I don't think tags are the best way of getting across which version you happen to be using. – terdon Jun 13 at 9:45
  • Also, the retagging won't be an issue. First because the version really isn't that relevant in most cases, second because most questions will be old and abandoned anyway, third because many posts already mention the version in the body. If any don't mention and it it is actually relevant, we can always as the OP or look at the edit history. – terdon Jun 13 at 9:53
  • 1
    @terdon I did say we should probably reduce tags, with the caveat that it must be a manual retag preserving any version info into the body, not an automatic merge. Things like the move to netplan are very much distro(and version)-specific, nothing to do with the kernel, and the distro version offers a hint to answerers and future searchers because "how do I add an ip address to a nic" is completely different between ubuntu-18.04 and ubuntu-16.04 - but that can be in Q body, not necessarily in tag. – Bob Jun 13 at 9:53
  • Oh, yes, you're quite right. Sorry, I was thinking of the change in the NIC naming schemes brought on by systemd (also not kernel, granted, but closer). Netplan is indeed very related to the distro. – terdon Jun 13 at 9:55
  • 2
    @terdon, for our Linux "pros", yes, you can easily change kernels, DE's, etc. Our experienced users would have no problem with fewer tags that are correctly targeted. However, novice users don't do that and don't have that familiarity. They install what's bundled with the distro and struggle if they encounter a problem. There's value in ensuring that they provide as much specific detail as possible, and the experienced users can sort it out. (cont'd) – fixer1234 Jun 13 at 18:35
  • 4
    They might not think to include the version within the question, but typing "ubuntu" in the tag area presents the major tags, and alerts them to the availability of version tags. If we eliminate those tags, most questions will undergo a delay while users ask for clarification. – fixer1234 Jun 13 at 18:35
  • @fixer1234 speaking from experience, I think you'll find that too many users just pick the first one. And, in the vast majority of cases the version just isn't relevant. And I say this as a mod on Ask Ubuntu. I feel it's much simpler to have one tag and if the version is needed and hasn't been mentioned, we can ask for it. – terdon Jun 13 at 18:37
  • @terdon - I suspect a possible problem with this approach. When a question is newly posted, people will probably assume that we're talking about the most recent Ubuntu, particularly if an LTS has been released in the last 6 months. So people answering might be making this assumption, and the question of which version is meant, won't end up being asked. – Diagon Jun 17 at 22:50
11

Ubuntu versions don't differ much.

I am by far not an Ubuntu expert and even I know that there are significant differences between a Ubuntu version released in 2009 and one released in 2019.

Having used older versions in a VM I can think of several problems that stem from using an older version, when attempting to upgrade the installation, to a newer version.

There are also upgrade limitations when dealing with LTS releases, for instance, Ubuntu recently in the last 2 years, stop providing a 32-bit LTS version. I only know this because my VM happened to be a 32-bit and I am stuck on an older release due to that fact.

Solution that's working in Ubuntu 11.04 has chances that it would work on 16.04 too unless it's a bug.

It would be up to the person answering the question to determine if the problem described is due to a bug or if the solution applies to the version of Ubuntu the author is using.

One of the first things I do as somebody who reviews a lot of contributions, to verify if an answer applies to a specific version of a program, I typically stick to operating systems I know though.

If they don't, we can always ask the questioner to mention their Ubuntu version.

Even if the tags are kept this should be done. Tags should not be a way to provide information that isn't specifically stated.

Multiple tags can become an obstacle in earning that golden tag badge

This isn't a valid reason to get rid of a tag. If a question applies to multiple versions, as an editor you can suggest an edit that adds the tag to the question, in addition to fixing any other problems with the question.

From my perspective, the biggest reason to keep these tags is the fact that Ask Ubuntu, has very similar tags. If these tags were not helpful, it speaks volumes, that a community built specifically for Ubuntu have tags for each release.

Now if we want to retag every single question with the version of the Linux kernel, and get away from Ubuntu specific tags, I could support that. However, that would be a ton of work. I have a feeling most Ubuntu users don't actually know what version of the Linux kernel they are using. So I suspect somebody will quickly create a Ubuntu version specific tag and we will be exactly where we are today.

We also would have to do this with any distribution version specific tag. So tags like should also be retired.

  • 4
    Ask Ubuntu mod here. Those tags aren't useful on Ask Ubuntu. I really, really wish we could get rid of them. And they're even less useful here IMO. – terdon Jun 13 at 18:39
  • 1
    @terdon - As an inexperienced Linux user under the assumption, a question is properly tag, I find those tags helpful. – Ramhound Jun 13 at 22:50
  • @terdon - My opinion on the subject would evolve if Ask Ubuntu got rid fo the tags. Of course here, we would have to do the same, to every linux distribution that has version specific tags. – Ramhound Jun 14 at 0:47
  • 2
    Well, the version tags are consistently misused on both Ask Ubuntu and Unix & Linux, although we have gotten rid of them in the latter. So the fact that they exist on either site isn't a good reason to have them here. The main reason I'm against this though is tag fragmentation: I don't want to have to follow a dozen different tags to find the posts I can answer. Multiple tags only make things harder to find and don't really help in any way. – terdon Jun 14 at 8:26
6

Perhaps we don't need a tag for every single version, but I agree that over time, there have been significant changes that justify some type of differentiation. But there's another key difference that justifies some form of differentiation, LTS vs. interim releases.

LTS releases are stable, built from interim releases after components of those have stood the test of time. Interim releases are just a tad better than beta tests. They allow a big user base to find bugs. A lot of the problems associated with interim releases are the bugs the releases are intended to ferret out.

Many of the interim release tags have a relatively small number of questions. Some of those problems aren't really specific to the release, the tag is just informational. Some are specific to release-based problems. We could go through them and use a more generic tag for the applicable questions. However, we would still be left with pretty much the same collection of tags.

We could reduce the number of tags by leaving at least the recent LTS tags (say the last few major versions. Relatively recent interim releases could be grouped and associated with the next LTS release number they feed. However, that would be really confusing for users, many of whom don't understand the details of the release cycles.

We could also group or synonomize release-specific tags older than several LTS releases with a generic [Ubuntu-legacy] tag or something similar. This would require ongoing maintenance. I'm not sure the effort would really add value.

Bottom line: We probably don't need every single current Ubuntu tag, but we benefit from some number of differentiating tags. Anything we do at this point to reduce the number will have pros and cons, and I don't see any real benefit to the exercise.

Update: A recent question just reminded me of another reason why differentiating releases is important. A new question related to a problem with an old release that is no longer supported. If there is a reason why an obsolete release is necessary, it could require an answer that describes how to jump through hoops to make it work. Otherwise, the answer would be to use a supported release. The fact that the question relates to an out-of-support release means that the answer will be different, and may well require the knowledge of a more specialized pool of users. Attracting the right answerers is a primary purpose of a tag.

  • 1
    There are legitimate reasons for older systems to exist. They might be completely isolated from the internet. However, there are lots of reasons somebody might have a question, if only to do something that was possible a few years ago but needs some tweaking today. While I certainly don’t suggest the community should try and support literally every unsupported operating system. I do think we should have an open mind. Likewise, we need tags to support that effort, otherwise we will get questions receiving answers that are not applicable to the operating system being asked about – Ramhound Jun 21 at 20:26
  • 1
    Just leaving LTS tags would confuse a lot of people who were not privy to the underlying discussing as to why the other tags are missing. Also, this (Stack Exchange Network) is the place to get support for potentially unsupported features and systems. To say we "can't" support everything is not necessarily true. That is what the community is for. I've used older distributions occasionally because there are some build tools that literally will not work on newer versions. Help I have found here has saved me many times in that regard. Summary: tags should be all or nothing for versions. – Terry Jun 24 at 13:37
5

I would say that we absolutely don't need so many version tags. I would argue that all we need is and then the version can be mentioned in the body of the question. Yes, there are difference between Ubuntu versions but they tend to not be very important. Also, most of them are down to the various pieces of software bundled with the distribution.

For example, networking changes are usually dependent on the kernel and DE changes etc are just about what GUI you happen to have running. Both of these can actually be changed by the user without affecting the version of the OS. For cases where the version really is relevant, it can be mentioned in the question body, no need for a tag.

More practically, having so many tags makes everything more complicated without actually offering any improvement I can see. It makes it much harder for a user to find the tag they want, it makes it more complicated to search, it can give the wrong impression that a shell-based answer that worked in 8.04 won't work today (most of them will), it means we have loads of obsolete tags for very old versions etc.

I suggest we merge all of these into a single and use that tag and that tag only going forward.

0

This answer may reiterate some of the content in other answers (previously posted) here. But in an effort to provide a concise response; I'd like to suggest that

  • Having many or several "Ubuntus" dilutes the effectiveness of the Category, because it makes it many categories
  • One "Ubuntu" category should be more than adequate, providing that contributors -- especially Questions, be required to include the Version. Which, I understand would be the best (thing to do) in any case.
  • Having multiple Windows 10 tags does not dilute the effectiveness of the category. It's hard enough to get people to submit a question with enough information so it can be answered. What I am hearing is an argument, to improve the usage guidelines for the Ubuntu tags, to specify when they should be used. They need work regardless based on my research. – Ramhound Jun 26 at 16:47
  • @Ramhound As I understood the OP; there are 19 tags/topics for Ubuntu. IMHO there need only be 1. With the requirement that any question regarding Ubuntu must provide their version. I follow the rules. Why shouldn't everyone else. :) This IMHO consolidates all Ubuntu discussion quite nicely. As to Windows. IMHO the same should apply. :) – somebody Jun 26 at 21:20
  • I can provide at least 10 examples of an answer that is only applicable to one version of Windows 10, and there is an entirely different answer, that applies to another. I understand your points but I guess I am having difficulty understanding why can’t both tags be used? Allows everyone to get a gold badge in whatever tag they want (somebody specifically said this was a reason to get rid of the version tags) – Ramhound Jun 26 at 22:21
  • I'll concede that the same maybe shouldn't apply to Windows. Because, as you say. There really *isn't that much difference. But in the case of Ubuntu. It seems to me that things will be less "messy" as a result of "consolidation". But I won't vote against you, or vote you down, if you disagree. :) – somebody Jun 26 at 22:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .