Review - Nextcloud Release Cycle

This is a review of the Nextcloud release cycle. I’ve been testing on NextcloudPi in addition to regular Nextcloud. All with Mariadb, Redis, fpm. I’ve found admins should expect their Nextcloud system to be fully upgraded at a minimum of every 10 calendar months. This is the most conservative release cycle available for general admins.

I’ve tested running Nextcloud 15 and 17 for as long as possible. Releases are as follows:

Version 13 from 02/06/2018 - 02/29/2019. Thirteen months.

Version 14 from 09/10/2018 - 08/16/2019. Less than 11 months.

Version 15 from 12/10/2018 - 12/20/2019. Twelve months.

Version 16 from 04/25/2019 - 06/09/2020. Thirteen months.

Version 17 from 09/30/2019 - 10/13/2020. Twelve months.

Version 18 01/17/2020 - 10/09/2020. On release x.10 so it should be EOL by 2021.

Version 19 from 06/03/2020 - present.

Version 20 from 10/02/2020 - present

Releases are very aggressive. Obviously, the devs are cranking it out as quickly as humanly possible. This is awesome and shows with the number of features and fixes added within each release. This also means X.0.0, X.0.1 or even X.0.2 can serve as part of the major bug testing phase. All newly announced applications (Federation, Circles, e2e Encryption, Social, Deck) and integrations should not expect any level of feature completeness, regardless of whether these are Core applications within releases.

The Nextcloud recommendation is to always keep up-to-date. The release process itself has been smoothing out greatly across major release updates, so that is excellent as of the last couple releases.

Pro’s

  • Very rapid release cycle.
  • Improvements benefit upstream projects.
  • Exemplary open development, with strong community feedback available through Github.

Con’s

  • Stable release does not account for app support. So, you must manually re-enable in order to upgrade or even re-configure major apps such as e2e encryption or Two Factor authentication if you updated too quickly to Nextcloud 20.0.0 (or latest release).
  • To maintain production stability, home users must wait for point releases to address outstanding bugs, which are often not discovered until the initial stable release. Move fast and break things.
  • Stable releases are always EOL within a calendar year. App developers may remove support even sooner in order to focus on the latest version. Or, devs will abandon their project entirely due to effort required to maintain compatibility in latest release.
  • Older systems must upgrade one release at a time to limit risks because of this very fast release cycle. Example: From last 17 to 18 to 19 to 20 current.

The best compromise I’ve found it to use NextcloudPi since it is based solely on basic compatibility. The project is currently on 19.0.2 so users must manually upgrade if they wish to use most current 19.0.4 or 20.0.0 releases otherwise available. In the Nextcloud release cycle, it is the most conservative upgrade cycle available apart from purchasing Enterprise support.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Can’t update and I dunno why… :frowning:

Nice review. I’m not old user of Nextcloud (i use it since first release of v14.x) and for me it is going too fast. I mean, i love when software is rock solid, without errors and is best at it’s main goal.
And I think I understand what is going on. Selling service like Nextcloud needs hype. New “bigger” version with new community addons that looks nice give business customers. Also giving higher number making it major release is voice that things like addons can be broken and do not work with newer version (removing responsibility for making things backward compatible).
But from me, home user perspective, i would prefer better performance, and muuuch better stability and predictability. Instead of making new things, fix errors, that there are so many of them (even i made some reports on github, that no one ever replied with any kind of solution even to test). Make software work correctly, without any error on most popular platforms (Apache and Nginx, with PHP 7.4 as mod_php, php-fpm and that’s all!).
For Me Nextcloud is quiet nice software, and developers did a great job. But with every new version i got more and more errors in logs, and most of communicates there are completely unreadable. For example i’ve got “Error - index - OCP\Files\NotFoundException: File does not exist”. I don’t know from this, what file, where, what user.
Long time ago i was thinking, that Nextcloud is good enough to make business, but today I would be afraid to propose someone that solution. And i hope things will be better in the future.
Or maybe another fork would be better, to suite ordinary people needs :slight_smile:

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I believe we all have choices here. Have the latest and greatest and you may have some stability issues. Or stay behind one release and you would be stable but not have the latest and greatest.

Have to agree that Nextcloud pulls all out and make it tempting to upgrade with attractive new features, but those who needs stability can all resist that right? Or just fire up a separate VM to just look at the latest and keep our productivity on par.

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What I do (for NextcloudPi Update Testing) in Docker is:

  • Import ncp-config and /data backups
  • Spin up a separate Docker instance
  • Update
  • Test for breakage and report issues to repos.
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take a look for the real dates here --> https://github.com/nextcloud/server/wiki/Maintenance-and-Release-Schedule

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It’s a real pity that there are no LTS versions for LTS versions of Debian.