I realize this sounds painfully obvious, however for countless users out there, the message isn't being conveyed effectively. Newer users need to do heavy testing with networking and resolution settings, among other common issues they might run into. Nothing frustrates me more than reading about a newer user who blindly upgraded to the next "big release," only to break their wireless connection or create an unstable desktop experience. This sort of nonsense is avoidable and we need to stop expecting people to just "know" this stuff.
New users aren't mind-readers and they certainly aren't going to spend weeks reading through random forum posts or poorly marked help pages before upgrading. It's time for distributions wanting a larger market share to step up to the plate and deal with this problem head on.
Do you think I'm overstating the issue? Fine, visit this Ubuntu download page and show me where any sort of warning or disclaimer is posted? The best we have is the offer of "long term support" without really explaining why this is important. While Ubuntu is certainly not the only distribution guilty of this lax effort on release details, they are the most popular.
Use a Wizard, Harry!
Why in the world isn't there a "Linux Release Wizard" posted on the download pages of popular Linux distros? I realize it might seem like a lot of work, but clearly, it's a needed feature.
The goal of such a wizard wouldn't be to help individuals select one distribution of Linux over another. No, instead the goal would be to help Linux users select the best currently supported release to best match their specific expectations.
Keep in mind that most new Linux users don't have the slightest idea which release of a Linux distribution is best matched for their needs. They do, however, have a firm grasp on how certain software titles are to be used in the first place.
Are any of these issues going to topple the current successes for Linux on the desktop? Of course not, as experienced Linux enthusiasts are already aware of the status quo in this space. But as new users find their way over to the Linux platform, some important decisions about disclaimers will have to be made. Because eventually it all comes down to what kind of reception we're interested in getting back from new Linux users.