LTS and release methodology

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Thu Jul 10 12:18:19 UTC 2008

On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 01:45:55PM +0200, Pär Lidén wrote:
> 2008/7/8 Matt Zimmerman <mdz at>:
> > There is a 'regression' tag, and we do try to prioritize these on an ad-hoc
> > basis, but understand that with such incomplete information, it's difficult
> > at best.
> Ok, I haven't seen that tag, even on bug bugs where users explicitly say
> that is has worked on a specific earlier distribution, such as bug #88746.
> Maybe it could be encouraged to be much more widely used?

It is already documented, but most people file and respond to bugs without
reading the documentation (and why should they have to?).  Perhaps the only
way to track regressions more accurately would be to represent them as
first-class data in Launchpad.  This is tricky, though, as we've learned
that the more visible a knob is, the more it is turned, regardless of
whether it is appropriate or not.  If the data is too noisy, it becomes
useless (this is why Importance is controlled).

> > This is already our policy; in fact, we delayed the first LTS release
> > for that reason.  8.04 released with some regressions, but these were
> > considered either a) not severe enough to warrant delaying the entire
> > release, or b) planned to be fixed with 8.04.1.
> Ok, I see. Well, then I suppose that I would like either a) the policy to be
> enforced more strictly, or b) that it should be communicated in some way
> much more clearly that the release is not really stable for production use
> yet for many users.

I agree that we need to communicate better around our release activity,
particularly with LTS.  We made operational provisions for the new approach,
for example delaying automatic upgrades from 6.06 LTS until 8.04.1, but the
differences between 8.04 LTS, 7.10 and 6.06 LTS were perhaps not clear
enough to everyone affected.

This is one of the difficult things about having no contact with most of the
user base.

> The important point is that a normal user should not need to hang out on
> forums, mailing list, LP, and so on, to know if the release is stable enough
> to use. IMHO, it should be enough to see from the name if the release is
> ready-for-use. For me (and probably many others) the name 8.04 Long Term
> Support communicates a message that it is so stable.

I by no means imply that 8.04 was not ready to use.  There were some flaws,
which there always are in software releases, and in my view we addressed
them appropriately with updates and 8.04.1.

To you, "LTS" may mean "so stable", but to another, it means that problems
are actively fixed (which implies some change and therefore instability)
even after release.  One thing it can never mean is that there are no bugs
in it, for that is a practical impossibility.

 - mdz

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