ReleaseCadence

Revision 22 as of 2013-03-07 16:56:35

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This page captures various proposals for changing the Ubuntu release cadence.

Current release scheme

Currently we have:

  • LTS releases every ~ 2 years (8.04 -- only on the server, 10.04, 12.04); Ubuntu Desktop is only supported for 3 years though
  • interim releases every 6 months
  • development release (currently raring) where next interim or LTS release is prepared -- see diagram below

raring today

Issues with current release scheme:

  • releases every 6 months are too far apart when compared with web and mobile standards (updates ~ every month)
  • lots of time spent on security updates and SRUs of many past supported releases
  • insufficient amount of testers of SRUs
  • insufficient quality checks of uploaded packages before they reach developers (raring-proposed to raring migration)

Proposed rolling release + monthly updated release scheme (Rick Spencer)

Rick Spencer proposed on ubuntu-devel@ a new release cadence dropping the interim (non-LTS) releases but adding monthly releases supported only until the next month.

An initial proposed implementation was captured in the foundations-1303-monthly-snapshots blueprint -- see diagram below

Benefits:

  • fresher software in the hands of users thanks to monthly releases
  • less releases to deliver SRUs on

Drawbacks:

  • no 13.04 and 13.10 series with 18 months of support

others proposals to be added here

Q&A

As a result of his proposal, Rick Spencer attracted a lot of questions and offers some answers in Q&A form below; add your own questions and answers (with signature) below.

Isn't the proposal you made a foregone conclusion? Wasn't it really a plan pretending to be a discussion?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • No, I really did mean for it to be a discussion and approbriate governance to determine how, if at all, we would take up such a proposal. I have passionate views on the topic, and I tried hard to make the argument for those views. I sincerely hope that the discussion causes us to do the right thing, but where "the right thing" could be something very different than what I specifically proposed.
      I think the straw man proposal was a good one based on a good analysis, but I never thought such a change would be made without proper Ubuntu governance.

So everyone but developers would use the LTS?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • That is not how I envisioned it. I think that whoever uses LTS today would continue to use the LTS if they want. Whoever uses Interim releases would use the non-LTS version. Many people who use the non-LTS release do so because they like getting fresh software with new capabilities, but they won't tolerate their system breaking signficantly. So, non-LTS for tech enthusiests and developers only seems to be setting the bar for our daily quality too low. We should shoot for consumer-grade quality every day. I don't think we'll start out with that, though. But meanwhile, the interim releases are both a crutch (with their freeze periods) and take resources and focus that could be channelled into daily quality on the Ubuntu of the future. At some point we need to make the leap.
      This is a big shift in mindset that we only just started down. The product that we are building is the same product that users are using. But note that other software projects do this. Some are small, some are big. Some are on the web, and some are operating systems. If they can do it, so can we.

Isn't this proposal just a proposal to go a 2 year cadence?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • I think this perspective makes sense if we think that we cannot deliver enough quality between the LTS to make Ubuntu generally useful for people who use the Interim releases today. Otherwise, we will have monthly cadence for planning, and some users will use that cadence for updates. We will have a daily cadence for quality, though.

Isn't changing our release heuristics incredibly risky? Won't we shed users?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • Risk aversion is a personal thing. The risk I am worried about is that don't effectively shift our focus to creating a Converged OS and someone else will get there first. I think we should be marshalling all of our forces to gain that high ground, and shouldn't risk losing it because we aren't prepared to change the way we do things.

What about flavors?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • In my original mental model, this wasn't much of a problem. The flavors just use an LTS for their LTS users, and the non-LTS release for those who currently use the Interim release. However, my mental model was wrong, because this does not actually allow some of the flavors to address their mission. If their mission is to deliver a stable upstream every six months on a stable base, they won't have a new stable based every 6 months to build on.
      I think there are ways to ensure that flavors can continue to achieve their mission, but it won't be quite so simple. For example, they could use the LTS and use backports or PPAs heavily, maybe spinning a new release of the LTS whenever their upstream releases. They could snapshot the archive every six months and support it themselves, but I think this would be a very bad outcome. There would be few people supporting that snapshotted archive, and I think there is a lot of benefit to everyone working in the same archive.

What would happen to people currently on 12.10?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • I think some of them could simply update now, and then go along with us on the non-LTS release after that. I think for others, we would want to continue to support 12.10 until those users can reasonably expect to update to 14.04.

Doesn't the change to not support 13.04 pull the rug out from under us?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • On the one hand, I don't think we should fall into the fallacy of sunk costs. The fact that we had planned to release 13.04 in the normal way does not automatically make it the correct thing to do.
      On the other hand, some of the feedback was from people who were planning products and other economic opportunities from 13.04. For them, it's not a sunk cost falacy. Of course, any change we ever make to or support policy could have such an impact on people. But maybe the week of feature freeze is a bit close to the deadline to make such a call.

What about OEMs that want to ship "fresh" Ubuntu

  • [rickspencer3]
    • Except for a few exceptions, the larger OEMs all ship LTS and are planning to for the foreseeable future. I'm not clear why someone couldn't pre-install 13.04 today. It would go to users, it would update when they first turned it on, and they would be good to go.

Isn't a Rolling Release just spaghetti code? Where is the rigor?

  • [rickspencer3]
    • I think "rolling release" does have negative connations for many users. It might imply unpredictability, instability, and other undesirable aspects of software. However, I'm not certain how this is

Is the Ubuntu 13.04 release cancelled?

Will Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10 and other prior releases still be supported?