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Convert Ubuntu Into Rolling Release Using Rolling Rhino

By sk
Published: Updated: 1.8K views

Arch Linux follows the rolling-release model to provide the latest and up-to-date stable versions of most software. Not just Arch Linux, many other distributions, such as Gentoo, Kali Linux, KaOS, PCLinuxOS, Solus, openSUSE and Void lInux etc., are also following the rolling release model. Despite its popularity, Ubuntu is still missing in this list. Not anymore! Thanks to Rolling Rhino script, we can now convert Ubuntu into a rolling release distribution easily and quickly.

Rolling Rhino is a shell script that transforms the Ubuntu into a "rolling release" that tracks the devel series. It converts the Ubuntu desktop and official desktop flavours, that has been installed from a daily image, into a rolling release distribution. So you can get the latest software as released by the original developers in your Ubuntu desktop.

Under the hood, this script sets all your apt sources to devel branch. Rolling Rhino is created and maintained by Martin Wimpress from Canonical among other contributors.

This script will be suitable for;

  • Ubuntu developers,
  • Experienced Ubuntu users,
  • And anyone who has the habit of breaking and fixing a perfectly working stable distro.

Convert Ubuntu into rolling release using Rolling Rhino script

As stated already, you must have a Ubuntu Desktop, or one of the desktop flavours, installed from a daily image. You can get the Ubuntu daily images from the following links:

For the purpose of this guide, I will be using Ubuntu desktop 20.10 Groovey Gorilla daily build.

Git clone the Rolling Rhino script in your local system using command:

$ git clone https://github.com/wimpysworld/rolling-rhino.git

The above command will clone the contents of the Rolling Rhino repository in a directory named rolling-rhino in the current working directory. Cd into that directory:

$ cd rolling-rhino

Now, run the following command to convert your Ubuntu desktop into a rolling release distribution:

$ sudo ./rolling-rhino

Press Y to accept switching into development series:

Sample output:

Rolling Rhino ?
  [+] INFO: lsb_release detected.
  [+] INFO: Ubuntu detected.
  [+] INFO: Ubuntu Groovy Gorilla (development branch) detected.
  [+] INFO: Detected ubuntu-desktop.
  [+] INFO: No PPAs detected, this is good.
  [+] INFO: All checks passed.
Are you sure you want to start tracking the devel series? [Y/N]y  [+] INFO: Switching to devel series.
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Get:1 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel InRelease [267 kB]
Get:2 http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-security InRelease [89.1 kB]
Get:3 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-updates InRelease [89.1 kB]
Get:4 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-backports InRelease [89.2 kB]
Get:5 http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-security/main amd64 c-n-f Metadata [112 B]
Get:6 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel/main amd64 Packages [974 kB] 
Convert Ubuntu into rolling release distribution using Rolling Rhino
Convert Ubuntu into rolling release distribution using Rolling Rhino

Finally, you will see the following message:

[+] INFO: Your Rolling Rhino is ready.
Convert Ubuntu into rolling release distribution using Rolling Rhino script
Convert Ubuntu into rolling release distribution using Rolling Rhino script

Done! Now the Ubuntu desktop has been converted into a rolling-release distro and it is tracking the devel series.

You can verify if the sources are pointing to the devel series using command:

$ grep ^deb /etc/apt/sources.list

Sample output:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel main restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-updates main restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-updates universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-updates multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-security main restricted
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-security universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu devel-security multiverse


I guess this script is the Ubuntu equivalent of Debian's changing the sources.list to point to testing branch. It simply changes all the repository links in the sources.list file to devel. Nevertheless, it is such a cool idea to instantly turn a fixed-releasing Ubuntu desktop into a rolling-release model.


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