Linux CI in homebrew/core

We currently use Ubuntu 16.04 for bottling in homebrew/core.

Ubuntu vs. other Linux distributions

As of 2022, around 77% of our users are using Ubuntu. This is the reason why we have chosen this distribution for our base CI image. We have successfully used Ubuntu for CI since version 14.04. The Ubuntu LTS versions are supported for 5 years. A new LTS version is released every 2 years.

Our bottles are compatible with other distributions like Debian/CentOS, even when compiled on Ubuntu.

Past and next versions

We are currently moving our CI to Ubuntu 22.04. This work will probably be done before end of 2022. Moving from Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 22.04 (and thus skipping version 18.04 and 20.04) took longer than expected.

We plan to proceed with regular updates from 2022 onwards. We aim to use the latest Ubuntu LTS version for our CI.

We will start using the latest Ubuntu LTS version for our CI no earlier than 3 months after its release and, ideally, no more than 12 months after its release.

Distribution Glibc GCC Usage
Ubuntu 14.04 2.19 4 From 2014 to 2017
Ubuntu 16.04 2.23 5 From 2017 to 2022
Ubuntu 22.04 2.35 11 From 2022 to 2024
Ubuntu 24.04 ? ? From 2024 to 2026

Why always use the latest version?

Homebrew is a rolling-release package manager. We try to ship the newest things as quickly as possible, on macOS and Linux.

When a formula needs a newer GCC because our host GCC in CI is too old, we needed to make that formula depend on a newer Homebrew GCC. All C++ dependents of that formula immediately acquire a dependency on Homebrew GCC as well. While we have taken the steps to make sure this no longer holds up GCC updates, it still creates a maintenance burden. This problem is more likely for formula which are very actively maintained and try to use newer features of C++. We decided that we shouldn’t have a maintenance burden for formulae which are doing the right thing by staying up to date. It makes a lot of sense for Homebrew maintainers to submit upstream fixes when formulae are not working with newer compilers. It makes a lot less sense for Homebrew maintainers to submit fixes because our host compiler is too old.

Note that glibc will need to be installed for more users as their glibc version will often be too old: disk space is cheap and we have can handle this situation for our users. This situation will often arise when update to a new LTS version and adoption of the new Ubuntu is still low during the first months. For the same reasons as above: we prefer to stay on the bleeding edge and give our users a gentle nudge to think about updating their OS.

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