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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 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.


Written by Matt Zimmerman

July 29, 2009 at 22:30

37 Responses

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  1. At the end it means the same more or less, because you can’t keep Debian ‘frozen forever’.

    Debianero Rumbero

    July 29, 2009 at 23:37

    • You seem to have missed the last few releases…

      Jo Shields

      July 30, 2009 at 00:43

      • Zing!


        July 30, 2009 at 16:35

      • xD

        OK, jokes apart, you can’t compare the time between Etch been freeze and its release time with Lenny been freeze and its release time

        Debianero Rumbero

        July 30, 2009 at 17:11

  2. […] Hey! Welcome to my site. You may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!UPDATE: It’s Debian’s freeze periods will be time synced, not the release cycles, read Matt Zimmerman’s explanation. […]

  3. Is this what Mark wanted? A common freeze? Will Ubuntu LTS now ship all the same version as Debian stable or will you still add the usual stuff?


    July 30, 2009 at 09:46

    • What Mark has said he wants is for distributions “to agree in advance on a date to the nearest month, and thereby on a combination of kernel, compiler toolchain, GNOME/KDE, X and OpenOffice versions, and agree to a six-month and 2-3 year long term cycle”

      I don’t speak for him, and will leave him to comment on what he thinks of the Debian proposal.

      I think it’s great news for both projects.

      This does not mean that Ubuntu 10.04 and Debian squeeze will ship with all of the same versions, though I expect we will end up being a lot closer by freezing around the same time. It means that patches from one project are more likely to apply cleanly in the other, and that we’ll have a more similar list of bugs to work on together.


      July 30, 2009 at 10:09

      • Thanks for link.

        But well .. I quote:

        “If two out of three of Red Hat (RHEL), Novell (SLES) and Debian are willing to agree in advance on a date to the nearest month, and thereby on a combination of kernel, compiler toolchain, GNOME/KDE, X and OpenOffice versions, and agree to a six-month and 2-3 year long term cycle, then I would happily realign Ubuntu’s short and long-term cycles around that.”

        I guess the ball is in Marks court now .. It will be interesting to hear from him now.


        July 30, 2009 at 11:53

      • “I think it’s great news for both projects”.

        No, it isn’t. Ubuntu “patches” do _not_ apply “cleanly” in Debian, because Canonical doesn’t release any such “patches”. Canonical simply releases a “log” of what it has changed in order to create its own fork, not some patch that can be directly applied to Debian.

        When will Canonical employees get off of their lazy asses and finally take full responsibility for their fork, instead of trying to change Debian’s infrastructure purely for the sake of making Canonical’s job of ripping off Debian devs’ work (otherwise mislabeled as “maintaining Ubuntu”) easier?

        You forked Debian. Forks take a lot of work. Either do your own work and leave Debian alone, or stop distributing your fork. It’s not the job of Debian volunteers to make the work of paid Canonical employees easier (so they can sell their closed source software such as Canonical Landscape Dedicated Server, and Ubuntu-only services such as Ubuntu One, which also is a slap in the face to anyone who actually believed Canonical’s lie that they wouldn’t use the Ubuntu trademark to hawk a commercial product).


        August 5, 2009 at 23:34

        • Please do not feed the troll, however hungry it may seem.

          Various indexes of the patches routinely submitted by Ubuntu developers to Debian can be found at https://wiki.edubuntu.org/Debian/Usertagging for the benefit of anyone interested in objective data.


          August 6, 2009 at 09:29

          • And many, many various criticisms of those “patches” can be found on the Debian email list.


            August 6, 2009 at 17:46

            • P.S. Please go to the _real_ Debian email lists — not some Canonical associated website such as referenced above if you want to know the _real_ story of what Debian devs think about Ubuntu “patches”. All you’ll get from a Canonical website is the same disingenous “Canonical is great” spin that everyone has come to expect from a company that is nothing more than the linux version of a Microsoft PR department.


              August 6, 2009 at 17:50

              • Yes, thanks for pointing that out. I would much rather that people get first-hand opinions from actual Debian and Ubuntu developers about how they work, instead of irrelevant commentary from trolls.


                August 7, 2009 at 10:53

                • Lots of Debian devs now know how Canonical devs “work”. It’s no mere coincidence that the “decision” to “freeze” the next Debian stable release was made, not via proper discussion on the debian email list, but at a conference infested by you and your Canonical cohorts, and just so happened to be at an atypical interval that coincidences with the next Ubuntu LTS (and subsequent 2 year periods to also coincidence). Thankfully, enough people figured out how Canonical is attempting to undermine the very, very successful debian infrastructure, and volunteer dev community, to serve Ubuntu’s/Canonical’s needs at debian’s expense. I’m sure you’d love to have all the volunteer debian devs freely contributing to Ubuntu LTS so you can try to grab away debian’s installed server base with sales of ubuntu server, and instead of wasting your time actually being fully responsible for your debian fork, you can instead spend your time spitting in the faces of your own volunteer community by using the Ubuntu trademark to hawk your Ubuntu One commercial service, and also ride on the shoulders of the FOSS community while selling your closed source Canonical Landscape Dedicated Server. At least, Redhat contributes back more to the community, isn’t so parasitic and unappreciative of the FOSS community, and doesn’t close-source their alternative to Canonical Landscape Dedicated Server (ie, rpath).

                  Canonical is the linux version of Microsoft. If people allow Canonical to further subvert debian for Canonical’s own gain, then it may be the first example of a supposed linux commercial enterprise pulling off “embrace, extend, and extinguish” to commercialize and close-source FOSS.

                  You are a troll upon linux itself.


                  August 7, 2009 at 17:36

  4. […] Ubuntu em ms-windows Posted on Julho 30, 2009 by ovigia Um verdadeiro Plano TecnologicoDebian fiel a si mesma5 formas de colocar Ubuntu em ms-windowsO mais pequeno Desktop PC a correr GNU/Linux Universidade […]

  5. […] groundbreaking news is popping up: OSNews, iTWire and plenty more Here they are OSNews, iTWire, Matt Zimmermann, […]

  6. It seems like Debian release management has improved significantly over the last couple of releases.

    While certainly not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination, it seems reasonable to expect releases will happen 3 to 6 months after the freeze, if politics don’t get in the way. ;)

    On a 2 year schedule the difference between that and a timed release doesn’t really seem to amount to that much.

    Later, Seeker


    July 30, 2009 at 21:25

  7. The Debian Squeeze freeze in December 2009 will apparently not happen:
    Maybe it is time to think about an Ubuntu 10.10 LTS release.


    July 30, 2009 at 23:05

  8. Debian’s release, no matter how they do it, is just fine. In other words, ‘When It’s Ready’.

    Good lord, we’re talking a new stable release every two to two and a half years. Beats the hell out of every 6 mos. in my opinion.

    I like that release schedule more than the other’s 6 mo. cycle.


    July 30, 2009 at 23:21

  9. Ubuntu is a huge problem..


    August 4, 2009 at 17:10

  10. my blog is part of the network at itwire, which is a registered australian technology news publication. you can belittle it all you like – but remember that the uk has pretty stringent laws against defamation, libel and slander, with the onus on the person who made the claim, not the one who brings the action.

    sam varghese

    August 5, 2009 at 00:04

    • I won’t tolerate your attempts at bullying here, Sam. Keep it to your own blog.


      August 5, 2009 at 08:45

      • how could a person like me ever bully a great developer who in addition is the cto of a world-famous company like canonical?

        Sam Varghese

        August 5, 2009 at 11:38

        • Sam, you are embarrassing yourself. I suggest you cut your losses and not make it any worse.


          August 5, 2009 at 11:47

          • i have reminded you of the fact that you have made an error in your posting. i don’t expect you to have the courage to admit that and correct that.

            i have reminded you of the fact that great britain is a law-abiding country. to stretch that and rant that someone is bullying is, even for you, a stretch, zimmerman

            Sam Varghese

            August 5, 2009 at 12:59

    • Sam,

      Do you mean to tell us that the title at the top of the page, the one that says “Blog” and is on an ugly blue-green-gray rounded-corner bar, is in fact untrue?

      Defamation usually requires that someone is being untruthful somewhere along the line.


      August 5, 2009 at 11:57

  11. You missed another one on the list: http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/debian_adopts_time_based_releases_somebody_check_temperature_hell
    By the Free Software Magazine no less! (Halfway through the article, though, the author admits the headline is incorrect.)


    August 7, 2009 at 23:39

  12. […] its 10K SEC filings, first Launchpad community meetup, 100 Hundred papercuts round 3 and round 4, Debian is going to a fixed freeze schedule, SpreadUbuntu keeps moving along, Landscape System Management Tool Adds Dedicated Server, UbuCon @ […]

  13. […] Debian goes to time based releases. No they don’t […]

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