Ubuntu and future Firefox update schedule

Chris Coulson chrisccoulson at ubuntu.com
Thu Apr 14 11:03:41 UTC 2011

On Thu, 2011-04-14 at 20:27 +1000, Chris Jones wrote:
> There’s a bit of discussion going on at the moment regarding the
> tightening of scheduled releases of Firefox and their inclusion in
> Fedora.
> I was curious as to how the Ubuntu Developers felt about it and
> whether they feel they will be able to keep up with an increased
> Firefox release schedule for inclusion into Ubuntu?


Which list is the Fedora discussion on? I'd be interested to see this.

Anyway, we are in a good position to handle this change already, and our
situation is quite different to that of Fedora:

1) We don't build Firefox on xulrunner anymore. This means we can deploy
a Firefox update without breaking other things in the archive using
xulrunner. It also means that our builds are more aligned with the
official mozilla.org builds and we benefit much more from their QA

Yes, I know that almost everyone thinks that bundling libs is evil, but
this is the best way of deploying updates rapidly without being
disruptive at the same time.

2) We already allow new major versions of Firefox in to a stable release
as a security update (we did this with Firefox 3.6 last year when
support for 3.0 ended). AFAIK, other distro's don't do this (I could be
wrong though).

In addition to this:

- We've dropped almost all Firefox extensions from the archive now. We
still permit a few in the archive, but the criteria for inclusion is
fairly tight. Dropping extensions has made me slightly unpopular, but
they are a terrible maintenance burden when we are going to have to
update them in 4 supported Ubuntu releases every 6 weeks or so.

- I'm going to be doing some work next cycle to streamline the way we
distribute translations for Firefox. Currently, we need to do a full
language pack respin when the major version of Firefox is bumped, and
this would become the responsibility of the security team to test and
deploy if we have to do it to support a security update. This situation
isn't sustainable in the long term though, so we will fix that.

Also, we need to put things in to perspective a little bit here, as the
situation isn't significantly different to what we have now.

As things stand today, Firefox gets a security/stability update every
4-6 weeks, with the occasional chemspill release inbetween. Recently,
these updates have occasionally included feature additions (eg, 3.6.4
introduced out-of-process plugins as a regular update), but we don't get
string changes in these updates.

With the new release process, Firefox will get an update up to every 6
weeks which will bump the major version number, with the occasional
chemspill release inbetween. These updates will be a combination of
security/stability fixes, feature additions/changes and new strings.
However, the changes will be incremental rather than major (eg,
comparable to the 3.6.3 -> 3.6.4 update, rather than the 3.6 -> 4.0


(Firefox maintainer in Ubuntu)

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