@The Other Steve
Why the hostility? Fear of the unknown?
On this laptop, running Slackware 13.0-stable, a supposedly "hard to use" version of Linux, about all I do is use it. Here is my entire maintenance routine:
1) crond runs the command 'slackpkg update" 4 times a day.
2) crond emails me notification of any changes in the ChangeLogs.
3) I read the changes (in the email), and decide how "hot" they are.
4) If they are security upgrades for code I'm actually using, I run 'slackpkg upgrade-all' as root and select which of PV's packages I feel comfortable to update without further research
4a) If they aren't security related (rare in -current), I peruse them at my leisure.
5) Occasionally, when bored, I'll run 'slackpkg install-new' to remind myself if there is anything that PV has added to the -stable release (rare).
That's it. Really. Including thru' kernel & major version changes, since Slack10.0-stable (the first OS I installed on this box, right about the time of it's release). Note that I only enter the loop when crond finds changes. If you want to see approximately how much of my valuable time I have "wasted" on this obviously horrendous maintenance schedule, see:
Now, to be fair, I have other machines running Slackware ... so if everything looks OK, I'll run a shell script that reaches out across the network and updates all of them (it's called UpdateAllSlackBoxen.sh, just to make it hard to run accidentally). After waiting a suitable amount of time (given by me as a command-line argument to the script), the same script makes sure that all the boxen seem to be working fine. If they are, then it sends out a batch of email to 2279 people (currently, 'wc' is your friend) who have asked for a reminder from me when Slackware needs updating (friends, family and ex-students, mostly). In return, said people run a script at their leisure that updates their system(s), and then emails a special account on one of my servers when complete. After about a week, it emails me with a list of names & numbers for people who apparently haven't updated their systems, which I deal with as appropriate to the individual. Occasionally I'll get a call from someone running odd-ball hardware that breaks after an update (sound, mostly), but it's rare. Couple or four times a year, maybe.
Note that the above paragraph is hardly normal, and has nothing to do with a single user running a properly setup Linux box ... but even then, I doubt I've averaged 10 minutes a month over the last 5 years keeping it all together. The Windows networks I used to have to deal with, in comparison, were quite the time sinks ...
 I don't allow kernel updates and other large & important bits & pieces until they have been out for a couple days and I've had a chance to read thru' the mailing lists & Usenet, I'm not that stupid! crond also backs up my system several times a day to several geographically diverse servers, so even in the event that PV makes a mistake and trashes my system, I'm covered. Hasn't happened (yet).