Getting ISOs before their release is risky, and not recommended (even though it helps us a bit)
by clem 24

Downloading ISO images before they’re officially announced can be risky. What if the images are changed and the distribution ends up releasing an ISO which isn’t the same as the one you downloaded?

Ubuntu ISO images are hidden to make sure people don’t download them before they’re “officially” released. Of course if you really want them you can download them all the same, but at least they’re harder to find.

Linux Mint ISO images are not hidden at all. Once they pass QA they start getting synced all over the World and downloading them is as easy as browsing the mirrors… that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and get them early without waiting for the official release though. In fact, you should be patient and NOT download them, for the following reasons:

  • The ISO you’re downloading might change before the release, which means you’ve downloaded the wrong ISO.
  • The release notes are usually written just before a release, which means you’ve no documentation to look at to know what the new features are, what is important to know and which workarounds you can use in case you run into an issue we’ve already identified.

In other words.. when you download an ISO prior to its official release… you’re on your own :)

Surprisingly, the reason we don’t hide them, is because leaking them helps us as well. Our QA testing is strict but like everything it’s empirical… we keep getting better by making mistakes. The reason we have an RC prior to every single stable release is because people ALWAYS find bugs we don’t find during QA. You can’t beat public testing. Now and then though, one of these bugs is deemed to be a critical one… and when we’re lucky enough to hear about it from people who downloaded the ISO before it was released, we still have time to delay the release and include the bug fix within an updated ISO image.

This is what happened today.

Although they didn’t use it, both 64-bit ISOs (MATE and Cinnamon) contained a kernel signed by Canonical. Other than the practical issues associated with signed Free Software (i.e. calling something Free implies you can modify it… modifying something that needs to be signed isn’t much use when you can’t resign it…) the signed kernel simply doesn’t work with Linux Mint. The Update Manager treats it as a level 5 upgrade, but if you perform an “apt-get dist-upgrade”, the new signed kernel updates your grub configuration and at the next reboot you’re looking at a kernel panic :)

So for this reason, we removed the signed kernels and updated both ISOs.

If you already downloaded them, do a “dpkg -l | grep linux-signed” and “apt remove –purge” anything that comes up :)

This of course will likely delay the RC release by another day, but heh, quality comes first, even for an RC.

Many thanks to Ilan, who made the mistake to download too early but without whom this critical issue would have made it into a public release.

The current MD5 signatures for the 64-bit ISOs are respectively 48ecdc03eaa6c497fa8bab3f937c4364 and 634f6476a6a62bdbc2d997bb196ea78a for the Cinnamon and MATE editions. Don’t be in a hurry to download them though, if we find another critical issue prior to the RC announcements we’ll consider delaying and updating them again.

24 thoughts on “Getting ISOs before their release is risky, and not recommended (even though it helps us a bit)

  1. Emmanuel May 14,2013 17:52

    Nice post !

    I was curious to understand why the RC was delayed. And now, I know.
    Thank you Ilan for being a “bad guy” :)

    Nice work, Clem. I will test the RC tomorrow when you will release it.


  2. klu May 14,2013 18:00

    nuuuuu, i cant wait anymore. at least my VM cant :d

  3. Petros Patalas May 14,2013 20:10

    :) Nice post!

  4. tdockery97 May 14,2013 21:05

    The only reason I do so is that being retired, Linux is my big hobby and I have lots of time to install/reinstall however often it takes to get the system I want. That being said, I ALWAYS follow your official policy of doing only the default updates with Mint Update. So at this point I think I still have an excellent system installed, even though I cheated a little in getting it early :)

  5. jkw May 14,2013 21:45

    Where do we find these “unstable” isos? I like to play with stuff that can “blow up”. Specially if I know I can contribute to the project/community with valuable information from my end of the screen!

  6. samriggs May 15,2013 04:14

    lol @ jkw maybe you should consider lmde lol
    This is one the reasons I like mint so much, exactly what this post says.

  7. klu May 15,2013 12:18

    there is a bug within synaptic.

    when you scroll through the package list by holding down the arrow keys, synaptic will eventually freeze and you have to kill it.

    workaround: use the trackpoint/touchpad/mousewheel to scroll

    tested on two different machines with olivia mate 64 bit, 634f6476a6a62bdbc2d997bb196ea78a

  8. Kirk M May 15,2013 12:53

    I sincerely hope you never hide the pre-release ISOs, Clem. As you stated, there’s a rather large difference between “lab” testing and “field” testing. Besides, it gives us “geeks of old” a chance to feel sneaky again.

  9. Reese May 15,2013 14:49

    Great Post. I use to have it bad about wanting the bleeding edge before it is release to the public. Now when I costomize my main machine I learned to WAIT because customizing take time. If your wanting the bleeding edge on your main machine nd your using linux just to get on the internet just to surf ect.. go for it. but if it take you more than 2 1/2 hr. to set it up like you want it. WAIT!

  10. Ah May 15,2013 16:17

    if i install the Rc (becuase i can’t wait 2 more weeks till the Finale release)
    can i upgrade it or update it the finale release without reformating and reinstall the whole system ?

    • clem May 15,2013 18:50

      The short answer is “Yes, probably”… the vast majority of the bug fixing done post-RC travels through the repositories in the form of package updates. Of course the purpose of an RC isn’t for people to run a release before it’s released as if it was stable already… it’s to run the system on a non-production environment, to be confronted to bugs early, to report them and to help the distribution make sure these are fixed before the stable release. To put it bluntly, you download the RC because you’re happy to act as a guinea pig for everybody else and in an effort to help the distribution.. not to get things earlier. In practice of course, many people are happy to get the release early, the RC quality is usually pretty good and we get good feedback from it, so I guess there’s no reason for me to act as a killjoy.. I’m just saying though :)

  11. Rüssel May 15,2013 19:48

    Thanks for the news. I like Segfault very much.
    I installed the latest Olivia MATE 64bit RC iso from 14 May.
    When I installed the recommended Nvidia driver binary, MintMenu crashed.
    Just a small issue, maybe you already know about.
    Thx for the great RC nonetheless.

  12. Aaronmj May 16,2013 02:18

    Clem, I figure If I post here you’ll see it.

    I really love your distro, you must work very hard. I try others but keep coming back to Mint. I feel Canonical, Microsoft, and the Gnome team have a tendency to ignore user input. You don’t, you are involved with the community and give us a top notch Linux distro! If you see this, it’s really just a big THANK YOU.

    PS- I would love it if you did an AMA on Reddit!

  13. Rüssel May 16,2013 05:20

    This morning MintMenu crashed right after logging in.

  14. Rüssel May 16,2013 06:44

    Software Center sometimes hangs at its startup screen in Olivia MATE 64bit RC.

  15. aelfinn May 16,2013 07:00

    Being aware of the dangers, here are three things in the RC I noticed:

    – My machine (an Acer 1810TZ) won’t shut down properly. After the modem-manager says its usual “caught signal 15, shutting down”, nothing happens.

    – Show/Hide delay for the panel (in autohide mode) doesn’t work. Didn’t work in LM14, either, btw.

    – Keyboard shortcuts for custom launchers using the Windows key (Super) do not work. (They do work e.g. for switching workspaces, so in principle they do work.) This was reported months ago, and it’s a little disappointing to see this bug still alive and well.

    Also, this URL is now the third or fourth place I am learning of that you might conceivably post bugs. I’d say bug reports should be dealt with much more consistently by Mint devs. Whether it is on the forum, on the blog (when a release or RC announcement is posted), or on Launchpad, many bug reports seem to simply go unnoticed. See the two Cinnamon bugs I pointed out above. Seeing this being addressed would be a very good thing.

  16. johnno May 16,2013 10:50

    Never done this before but installed it temporaraily next to LM14. So, here’s just a few things I came across while playing with it.

    Main problem I have is that there’s no sound. In LM14 the sound settings automatically show my nvidia videocard. Here, it’s just not there.

    I could not get the software center to open up. It just hangs.

    I was unable to install quite a few themes. Settled for Glassmint as I’m used to that in LM14. But it shows an annoying bar in the bottom panel.

    Other than that, I experienced a few crashes of the desktop, but I’m sure that is already being addressed.

    It’s not much but I hope this is in any way helpful.

  17. Mr. B May 16,2013 16:46

    I’d suggest to remove any links to the download mirrors that are posted on the forum before the actual announcement and release from now on.

    Just to prevent any damage that could be done to the image of Linux Mint from people that might start to complain about their system not working anymore who might have installed a wrong iso.

  18. Volpone May 17,2013 07:14

    I tried both Cinnamon and Mate RC and cannot activate the wifi drivers (booted from phone using drive droid apk – it worked fine with the latest Ubuntu & co). Anyone with this ? Thank you.

  19. maddoggin May 24,2013 14:40

    ok so i updated mint 14 to mint 15 and been running it for last day or so i havnt noticed anything wrong then aghain i dont use synaptics much all i do is build android source and browse web from time to time. one thing i noticed is i can connect my nexus 4 to it and it recognizes it to as where i couldnt do that on mint 14 so thats a plus. i can now get rid of dual boot windows since thats the only reason i had it. will be in stalling mint in my entire system looking for the iso to download. any links?

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