Debian is NOT switching to time-based releases
At DebConf 9 this week, the Debian release team proposed a new approach to Debian’s release cycle, which was then announced on the Debian web site. Both the Debconf presentation and the announcement were quite clear, but a number of news articles and blog posts on the subject seem to have misinterpreted them:
- Debian Adopts Two-Year Time-Based Release Cycle on OSNews
- Debian to adopt time-based releases on Linux Today
- Debian to Adopt Time-based Release Cycle on Jonathan Carter’s blog
- Debian to adopt time-based releases on a blog masquerading as a news site
Debian is not switching to time-based releases. I’m glad they aren’t, because I don’t think it would be the right choice for the project at this time. Time-based releases are the approach used by Ubuntu, where we plan to release on a specific date. Instead, they will use the same approach as in previous releases, where they set criteria for release-critical bugs, and release when all release-critical bugs are closed.
The difference is that they will schedule the freeze date in advance. This means that there is a bounded time period available for new development, where things sometimes need to be broken in order to make progress. Once the freeze point is reached, Debian developers will minimize breakage and focus on stabilization. Once the RC bug count drops to zero, they’ll release as usual. That could happen soon after the freeze, or it could take a long time, depending on how many bugs are introduced during development.
This hybrid approach seems like a good balance, giving the release team the ability to guide the project toward a more predictable release cadence, without sacrificing their uncompromising approach to quality. Having a predictable freeze date will help Debian and Ubuntu developers to work together this winter to fix many of the same bugs in Ubuntu 10.04 and Debian squeeze.