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Debian Decides To Adopt Time-Based Release Freezes 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the regular-intervals dept.
frenchbedroom writes "The ongoing Debconf 9 meeting in Cáceres, Spain has brought a significant change to Debian's project management. The Debian project will now freeze development in December of every odd year, which means we can expect a new Debian release in the spring of every even year, starting with 'Squeeze' in 2010. Until now, development freezing was decided by the Debian release team. From the announcement: 'The project chose December as a suitable freeze date since spring releases proved successful for the releases of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (codenamed "Etch") and Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 ("Lenny"). Time-based freezes will allow the Debian Project to blend the predictability of time based releases with its well established policy of feature based releases. The new freeze policy will provide better predictability of releases for users of the Debian distribution, and also allow Debian developers to do better long-term planning. A two-year release cycle will give more time for disruptive changes, reducing inconveniences caused for users. Having predictable freezes should also reduce overall freeze time.' We previously discussed talks between Canonical and the Debian release team about fixed freeze dates."
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Debian Decides To Adopt Time-Based Release Freezes

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  • Linux: Debian (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:33AM (#28867143)

    Two things to note.

    First, the small font used for the non-mainpage stories makes me read the story title as "Lesbian decides to adopt time-based release freezes".

    Second, limiting an OSS project to a time-based release cycle puts an artificial constraint on the development process. While it might be useful to encourage faster development in some cases, it is just as likely to force a new feature to be dropped at the last minute if it can't make it through the door in time.

    I'd rather they stick with feature-based releases which focus on the quality of features rather than trying to force feature development into a specific duration.

    • Re:Linux: Debian (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nosfucious (157958) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#28867203)

      And refering to Spring/Winter is too imprecise. It's currently (July) Winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

      Try refering to Quarter 1, Quatert 4, etc for times of the year.

      However nit picking aside, at least we shall now get some certainty in the releases of (probably) the worlds best distro.

      8-)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:45AM (#28867363)

        a.) It says December, I'm pretty sure December is always in December no matter what hemisphere you're in, which makes it pretty obvious what they mean by Spring.
        b.) No one cares about the Southern Hemisphere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lordandmaker (960504)
        The release in the Southern Hemisphere has an extra six-months of bug squishing.
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Have you seen the spiders in Australia? I think you guys need the extra 6 months...

      • by grub (11606)

        However nit picking aside, at least we shall now get some certainty in the releases of (probably) the worlds best distro.

        We already do: OpenBSD comes out in May and November. Not that it's a "distro" but...
    • by fuzzix (700457)

      I'd rather they stick with feature-based releases which focus on the quality of features rather than trying to force feature development into a specific duration.

      You should try Slackware - Pat only releases when ready.

      Apt broke on me again this morning (this time during an upgrade). Find myself thinking "Guh, I wish this was Slack" every time that happens.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You can always tar/configure/make in Debian just like you can in Slackware.

        • by fuzzix (700457)

          You can always tar/configure/make in Debian just like you can in Slackware.

          I don't generally build from source...

      • Huh, apt broke on you [again]? Are you running testing?
    • Re:Linux: Debian (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TREE (9562) * on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:48AM (#28867427)

      No schedule, feature based or time based, will have all upstream developers in sync. Someone will always be developing new stuff and want to squeeze it in.

      At least this way, there's a known target that developers can be (made) aware of.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lenzm (1238440)
      All releases are artificial constraints. There's always new features that could be included.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by noundi (1044080)

      Second, limiting an OSS project to a time-based release cycle puts an artificial constraint on the development process. While it might be useful to encourage faster development in some cases, it is just as likely to force a new feature to be dropped at the last minute if it can't make it through the door in time.

      At the same time a release can be delayed for the opposite reason and you end up delaying the entire project due to some packages.

      The trick to avoiding your scenario and my scenario is by carefully picking the most appropriate intervals. Not too long between as this will drag out development leaving already stable and wanted features on hold for a longer time than necessary, and not too short leaving unstable features dropped or hurried out. The best way to do this would be to categorize your packages in

    • Re:Linux: Debian (Score:4, Interesting)

      by clang_jangle (975789) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:59AM (#28867647) Journal

      ...limiting an OSS project to a time-based release cycle puts an artificial constraint on the development process. While it might be useful to encourage faster development in some cases, it is just as likely to force a new feature to be dropped at the last minute if it can't make it through the door in time.

      I definitely agree, however I expect this decision was driven by concerns that Debian's popularity with businesses [debian.org] might be threatened by Ubuntu. Pointy-haired types like to see "regular" release schedules, rather than "we'll release it when it's done".

      ...the small font used for the non-mainpage stories makes me read the story title as "Lesbian decides to adopt time-based release freezes".

      You might want to revisit your browser's font configuration then. I certainly would never depend on the font choices of web designers. :)

    • First, the small font used for the non-mainpage stories makes me read the story title as "Lesbian decides to adopt time-based release freezes".

      Me too! My first thought was, "I guess the lesbians from the porn industry get used up so fast that they want updated versions every couple of weeks or so." Yeah, I could see where that would get annoying to the lesbian developers.

    • by tuxgeek (872962)

      "limiting an OSS project to a time-based release cycle puts an artificial constraint on the development process.Agreed
      Debian is noted as producing extremely stable packages on a stable distribution. They're outdated by Ubuntu or Fedora standards, but they also don't crash the system frequently with buggy applications.

      For Debian to put their distro on a fixed release schedule could limit the effectiveness of their product. I think they should just stick with what has worked for them so far. Maybe just produ

      • by FudRucker (866063)
        i agree with the "Once per Year" thing, any more often than once a year is just not necessary...
    • by br00tus (528477)
      As a former Debian user, current Ubuntu (and Gnewsense) user, I say this is completely ridiculous.

      I was one of those unfortunate users of Debian 3.0 stable (woody). It was released in July 2002. The next release was (two week shy of) three years after that. Way, way too long. You think a *two year* cycle is too short? Your philosophy leads down the Duke Nukem Forever, Gnu Hurd path. Yes, there is plenty of crap that gets rushed out too fast due to deadlines that make no sense, but on the other end of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AlXtreme (223728)

        I like Debian's commitment to free software, but if you don't deliver a product people will look elsewhere.

        They did and do deliver a product: a rock-solid stable Linux distribution.

        Some people care more about a stable environment (for servers or workstations) than the latest bells and whistles. That, together with the necessary security fixes, makes Debian the best distribution for me hands-down. And if you run Ubuntu or any derivative, you're still running Debian under the hood. Even if you don't need a ro

      • by jgrahn (181062)

        I was one of those unfortunate users of Debian 3.0 stable (woody). It was released in July 2002. The next release was (two week shy of) three years after that. [---] From March to June of 2005, you were, aside from security updates, running the 2001 version of Python on your current Debian stable box. It is ridiculous. I was trying to run Python scripts written in 2004 and 2005 and couldn't because they were all based on Python 2.3+, if not 2.4.

        Python is a bit of a special case, though. It's a great progr

        • by sjames (1099)

          Some Python programmers are like that. Personally, I use Debian as a gauge for which version of Python I program to for the simple reason that it's a great guide to what a stable but not antiquated system will be using. A good thing about Python is that the interpreter itself DOES offer ways to transition smoothly even if some programmers fail to take the hint. Importing from future can be your friend.

          Some portion of programmers in ANY language tend to be too bleeding edge. Since they can't express their b

    • it is just as likely to force a new feature to be dropped at the last minute if it can't make it through the door in time.
      The problem is with a project as huge as debian is that there is always some feature that can't make it through the door on time. Sooner or later you have to say enough is enough and it is time to polish up what you have and get a release out the door.

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      ...a time-based release cycle puts an artificial constraint on the development process

      This I would agree with. Sometimes I install the cooker version of Mandriva (most up to date versions of the next version of Mandriva) to test the packages, testing the install as some Windows users would do (update instead of total wipe). Reporting certain bugs naturally get higher importance to fix, but depending on how many coders work on a particular part of the OS, the fix could take an age to materialise, and sometimes misses the release schedule date.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Any release of an active project will tend to be somewhat arbitrary anyway. There's always something that will be ready in "just a few days". Just a few delays for "just a few days" has a tendency to turn in to never.

      One positive aspect of the time based freeze is that it will surprise nobody. If you're a Debian maintainer working on a big new feature, you know right now how long you have before the freeze and can scale appropriately.

  • I thought Debbie and Ian were releasing patches on Tuesdays. Am I wrong?

    Oh, wait, it is *that* company.

    Nevermind.

    Seriously, I wonder why the ridgid schedule. Wouldn't it be better just to release when things are "ready"?
    • by noundi (1044080)

      Wouldn't it be better just to release when things are "ready"?

      Would you want to delay an entire OS due to the newest associated IM not being ready? In other words if you're hungry now, would you care for the larger part of the cookie now or would you rather stay hungry and wait for the whole cookie?

      • (Ooh, I got an off topic mod for an on-topic question. Love it!)

        I wouldn't delay the OS. I was referring to more the other direction. You would want to release when it is ready, even if that is prior to the scheduled date.

        I - in a way - use Debian since I've switched from openSUSE to Ubuntu, so I'd be curious if Ubuntu would be affected.
        • by noundi (1044080)

          You would want to release when it is ready, even if that is prior to the scheduled date.

          Within most FOSS projects "ready" is a very relative term. Most of us have probably used a lot of good functioning software before it was ready. Take Firefox 3.5 BETA for example. It worked close to as good as 3.0 in terms of stability. The problem with your reasoning is that you treat the project as a whole, which is fine, but never forget that these packages often have independent devs whom don't really care about your cycle at all times. So even if application X will be ready in time, the devs for applic

  • Previous way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sleekware (1109351) * on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#28867201)
    I've always liked Debian's way of doing their releases, it was unique and worked really well for them for awhile; I hope this new way works out for the best and mutually benefits both Debian and Ubuntu.
  • I like this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tayhimself (791184) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:38AM (#28867227)
    This is almost like an Ubuntu LTS release? I am very happy with Ubuntu LTS for my servers. I think this is a step in the right direction for debian, but I don't see why I would go with a Debian server as opposed to an Ubuntu one.

    Still thank you to the debian team for we depend on their hard work.

    • Re:I like this (Score:5, Informative)

      by lordandmaker (960504) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @11:46AM (#28867373) Homepage
      Er, ish.

      Debian Stable is the closest Debian has to an equivalent of Ubuntu's LTS release. Debian Testing's about a Ubuntu 'normal'.

      But the two distros work in different ways, the comparison's not that cut-and-dried, since LTS releases are just normal releases with long support times.

      Debian Stable is unchanging in featureset for its lifetime, Debian Testing is the testing for the next Stable, and Debian Unstable is where the changes to be tested are made.

      As I understand it, Ubuntu 'freezes' a mirror of Debian testing, prettifies it, and releases it as Ubuntu. This is grossly under-representing Ubuntu's contribution, but is sort-of accurate in principle
      • by zsau (266209)

        Debian Testing is the testing for the next Stable

        To be clear, many (most?) packages added to testing aren't expected to go into the next stable. They're added to testing automatically from unstable after no (significant?) bugs have been filed in (usually) ten days. Seeing as packages are added to/from unstable, testers would usually be running unstable. It is more accurate to think of testing as what stable would be, if a new stable was released today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nursie (632944)

      Well, I likewise don't see why you would go for an ubuntu server over a debian one :)

      Ubuntu has a six monthly release cycle with yearly LTS IIRC?

      Debian is effectively always LTS, when it's released. When you release every two years and provide patches and updates for the oldstable as well as the stable branch you effectively have a 4 year support cycle anyway.

      Also, Ubuntu is *so* x86 and whilst I know this is changing slowly I have three headless ARM based servers running debian right now. Err...
      For me, Ubu

    • I run Debian stable on my laptop, and I don't see why I would run Ubuntu instead of Debian. Debian has a larger range of packages and is much more flexible and forgiving if you don't want to run one of the preconfigured subdistros (i.e. Ubuntu/Gnome, Kubuntu, Xubuntu etc.). Plus, having run distributions like Debian/sid or Gentoo, which have continuous updates, I find the reliability you get from a computer which never randomly changes packages is a plus. The six-monthly timetable of Ubuntu is much too short for that; I would've got the bugs ironed out just in time for a new release. There is, as you indicate, the LTS releases: but they're just one of the regular releases and this means you get people pulling in opposite directions (latest and greatest vs good for the whole three/five years). Also, is there some guarantee that you can always upgrade from one LTS release to the next LTS release?

      In short, with Debian stable, I know what I'm getting. With Ubuntu, in my mind there's too much uncertainty that I'll have a reliable computer for its lifespan. Even if there isn't any uncertainty, there's no reason to convert. No matter how good Ubuntu is, I can't imagine it being better enough than Debian (on my desktop for my purposes) to warrant converting.

      (That said, I would like answers to my questions. Googling "Ubuntu LTS" gives you almost nothing about LTS in general. The one page that's not information about a specific release has almost no content: a paragraph about Ubuntu's normal release schedule, a paragraph about the LTS release schedule, and a paragraph taking you to a list of pages about the beta releases (!) of distributions released a year (!!) or three (!!!) ago. This absence of information, and absence of relevant information, fills me with an absence of confidence, and it's one reason I'm not going to switch my laptop from Debian stable.)

      • ...fills me with an absence...

        Mind-blowing, man.

        • by zsau (266209)

          I have no idea what a koan is, but I didn't type that by accident... I think it's a type of rhetoric.

      • I run Debian stable on my laptop, and I don't see why I would run Ubuntu instead of Debian.

        Lack of Ext4 support for existing partitions is what's keeping me on Ubuntu. I'm waiting for the Testing images to support it, but I don't think that'll happen until it gets 2.6.28 [debian.org]. Unless you know another way?

        • No idea at all I'm afraid; it's not something I've ever wondered about. I guess you could manually compile a kernel, but I expect there'd be a bunch of userspace apps you'll also need to installl like an ext4 version of fsck.

      • Every other Ubuntu release is LTS, which means Long-Term Support. As it sounds, it is supported for a longer period of time (I don't know offhand how much longer, but I'm sure you can find out if you look hard enough).
        • by zsau (266209)

          Not only is what you said false (there have only been two LTS releases, and there have been two non-LTS since the last one), even if it were true, it has less information than what I contained in my question.

          • Not only is what you said false (there have only been two LTS releases, and there have been two non-LTS since the last one),

            You're correct. Upon checking, it's every 2 years, which is every 4 releases.

            even if it were true, it has less information than what I contained in my question.

            I don't see what else there is to it. There's nothing inherently different about the LTS releases (they aren't tested any more ahead of time or treated any differently than normal releases in any other way, to my knowledge), except for the fact that Canonical will continue supporting them longer. Your original post posed a question (they don't seem to be that different; what is different about them?), which I answered (what you'

  • I guess that puts an end to the phrase "when Debian freezes on a regular schedule"

    • Damn, we've lost Duke Nukem AND Debian. The only benchmarks left are flying pigs and a freezing Satan.

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