Planning Dapper+1

Mark Shuttleworth mark at
Wed Apr 19 12:51:18 BST 2006

This mail charts the territory post-Dapper for those of us who like to
dream a little.

First things first. The codename of Dapper+1 will be:

   The Edgy Eft

And here's why. Edgy is all about cutting edge, perhaps bleeding edge,
brand new code and infrastructure. It will be the right time to bring in
some seriously interesting but definitely edgy new technologies which
lay the groundwork for the next wave of Ubuntu development.

An Eft is a youthful newt, going through its first exploration of the
rocky territory just outside the stream. And that's exactly what we hope
the development team will do with Ubuntu during the Edgy cycle - explore
slightly unfamiliar and uncharted territory that is perhaps a little out
of the mainstream. 

So dream a little about Xen for virtualisation, Xgl/AIGLX and other 
wonderful wobbly window bits, the goodness of Network Manager, a first 
flirt with multiarch support for true mixed 32-bit and 64-bit computing 
on AMD64, the interesting possibilities of the SMART package manager... 
and other  pieces of infrastructure which have appeared tantalisingly 
on the horizon.

We can afford to take some risks with Dapper+1, because Dapper has turned
out so well. We have a great answer for people who need super-solid
and super-predictable results: Dapper is still fresh, will continue to work
on modern hardware for some time, and has plenty of legs in its support
cycle left to run.

In terms of the management of the release, we will have some fun with the
core Canonical team. I'm promising to impose (almost ;-) zero from-the-top
requirements for Edgy, this release is entirely up the to development
team to envision and implement. Of course, feature proposals need to
go through a review and approval process, and we'll make sure everyone
has enough on their plate to keep busy during the cycle, but almost 
everything that lands in Edgy will be driven from the development team, 
who get to play with whatever new technologies they fancy along the way. 
So that should give us a nice big bump in infrastructure and bling.

I would encourage members of the community who have been thinking of
a cool new feature or plan to seize the opportunity to get it into Edgy.

The tradeoff, of course, will be that some of these new ideas will not
land perfectly first time. So there may be shakiness, or outright
bumpiness, in Edgy. We will for the first time possibly have to say
to new users "Edgy gets security updates etc for 18 months but seriously
consider Dapper if you need the most polished platform". I think that's
a worthwhile tradeoff, because I think a clean-the-pipes type release
like Edgy is a good way for us to re-energise the team and the distro.
Risk is good, when you give it a place and a time. And Dapper+1 is
the right time for us to take a few risks.

All of this will be managed using the Launchpad spec tracker, now called
Blueprint. You can find the current set of "out there maybe" specs for
Ubuntu at:

Go ahead and start drawing up braindump specs in the wiki for ideas you 
would like to get into Edgy, and registering them there. Don't put too
much time into the detail of the specs because we should stay focused on
the business of polishing up Dapper until June 1st. In the week after
the Dapper release we will open up the Edgy archive and start reviewing
and prioritising Edgy specs, and two weeks after release we will have
the next Ubuntu Developer Summit, where the core team's specs will get
finalised and approved.

This "meta cycle" of aggressive new features, slowly converging over a 
series of releases on a solid and consistent look-and-feel and underlying
platform, has worked very well for us over the course of the past two
years. We didn't plan it this way, but I suspect the next two to three
years will look similar - we'll start of with a release that has a lot
of edge and new tech (remember Warty?) and polish that up till we see
the timing is right for a really polished enterprise "long term support"
release, like Dapper. We've no concrete plans for the next Dapper, only
that we'll know a release or two in advance when the time is right.

The past two years have been a privilege and a pleasure. Dapper is the
full expression of what we have learned in this first phase, and I have
every reason to believe it will be a hit. Once that's out the door, it
will be a great opportunity to rock-'n-roll up our sleeves, play with new
ideas, kick some new tyres and of course dig some new foundations. We may 
strike gold, we will likely uncover some dirt, but it should be fun and it 
should be funky. Let's live on the Edge a while.


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