Let's Discuss Interim Releases (and a Rolling Release)

Rick Spencer rick.spencer at canonical.com
Thu Feb 28 15:39:42 UTC 2013

ftr, I didn't mean Friday the 27th, I mean Friday the 1st, tomorrow ;)

On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 7:31 AM, Rick Spencer <rick.spencer at canonical.com>wrote:

> = tl;dr =
> Ubuntu has an amazing opportunity in the next 7-8 months to deliver a
> Phone OS that will be widely adopted by users and industry while also
> putting into place the foundation for a truly converged OS.
> To succeed at this we will need both velocity and agility. Therefore, I am
> starting a discussion about dropping non-LTS releases and move to a rolling
> release plus LTS releases right now.
> = Role of the LTS Releases =
> Many users prefer their OS does not change very often. We have a great
> system in place for these users. Every 2 years Ubuntu release an LTS and
> users can ride that LTS for the whole support period. Since the LTS comes
> out every 2 years, they can set a 2 year cadence of updates if they want to
> stay "up to date" with LTS releases. I think this 2 year cadence works out
> very well for these users. So, this proposal maintains those LTS releases
> as anchors for those users.
> = Role of the Interim Releases =
> But what about the 3 releases we do every six months in between (what I
> call the "interim releases")? Who are they for? Why do we invest so much in
> supporting multiple interim releases at a time?
> I think the value of the interim releases has run its course:
>  * Customers (people who pay Canonical and others to support Ubuntu) like
> OEMs and Enterprises have all adopted an LTS to LTS cadence.
> * Many community members recommend only LTS releases to new users because
> of its longevity and stability, but the interim releases cause confusion
> about what is the “right” version for someone to install.
> * As Scott James Remnant pointed out some time ago, the six month cadence
> causes features to be either rushed, or to have to wait for six months to
> be released (along with other problems). (
> http://netsplit.com/2011/09/08/new-ubuntu-release-process/)
> * Due to Daily Quality efforts, the development release is now usable
> every day, so enthusiasts and community members don’t have to wait for a
> stable release to get the latest software and can participate more fully in
> the development of Ubuntu
> * Supporting interim releases is a costly distraction from future
> development, a cost in both time and attention.
> = Ubuntu NG =
> In the meantime, with Ubuntu Touch, the Phone, the Tablet, and convergence
> of these device experiences with the Desktop, we are in the process of
> inventing what is essentially a next generation Ubuntu. There will be lots
> of new code written and code integrated from new sources to accomplish
> this. The 13.04 Desktop would not have any of this new code, and therefore
> will be "old" before it is even released.
> Therefore, I think we should keep LTS releases, but starting now, stop
> doing interim releases and start a rolling release.
> More clearly, I think we should:
>  * Stop making interim releases.
>  * Keep doing daily quality and keep improving our daily quality.
>  * Take a monthly snapshot of the development release, which we support
> only until the next snapshot
> That means users could choose:
>  * The LTS release
>  * The rolling release updated daily or as frequently as desired
>  * The rolling release updated at least monthly
> = Benefits of Moving to a Rolling Release =
> A rolling release instead of interim releases will benefit users,
> community members, and developers.
> == For Users ==
> Users who prefer the LTS releases will be unaffected by this change, at
> least directly. For users who prefer more up to date software, the rolling
> release will truly provide the latest and greatest software that they are
> looking for, but without the 6 month wait for a new release. Developers
> won’t be under pressure to rush a feature in before the release deadline,
> so users will be receiving more complete software when they do get updates.
> == For Community ==
> The community will benefit from the simplified model. They will be able to
> recommend either the LTS or the rolling release, and the users of each will
> be clear. People who need to provide support may find their lives
> dramatically simplified, because on any one day, there will essentially be
> 2 releases with clearly differentiated user bases instead of their user
> base being distributed across a minimum of 3 supported releases. For
> example, on any one day, an ISV typically would only have to worry about
> the LTS releases and the current rolling release, instead of 11.10, 12.04,
> 12.10 and the current development releases, Raring.
> == For Core/MOTU Developers ==
> For the people who are actually making Ubuntu (the people on this thread I
> hope) there are some clear wins as well.
> 1. Only 2 releases to support, the LTS and the rolling releases. That
> means fewer SRUs to worry about, and only for LTS releases. More time and
> attention to focus on what we are building instead of what we had built.
> 2. Features land when they are ready, not earlier or later.
>  3. No one will get stuck supporting "old" software that is not part of an
> LTS release.
> = Why Now? =
> There are two answers for this.
>  1. Because of Convergence
>  2. Because we can
> == Convergence ==
> The vision before us is feasible, and we can do it if we are smart about
> focusing our resources on the future.  We can make a Free and Open Source
> OS that uses the same code base to power phones, tablets, desktops,
> workstations, servers, clouds, and services in clouds! We can ensure a
> place for Free and Open Source software in the future where people are
> running desktops off their phones, televisions off their tablets, and all
> the other combinations that convergence will bring us. We *can* do this.
> But to do this, we need to continue quickly down the path that we have
> started on, making Ubuntu the best client OS on any form factor. Winning
> our place among the new industry leaders delivering devices to end users
> will take copious focus and effort on our part. We can't afford to let our
> focus and effort to get siphoned off into releasing and supporting software
> that is not taking us closer to that future.
> == Because we Can ==
> Daily Quality means that developers can ensure their components are stable
> and useful before they upload, and our processes protect us from most
> mistakes these days. The result is that 13.04 has been as robust a release
> over the last many weeks as 12.10 was when we delivered. We have achieved
> rolling release quality in our development practices, so we can capitalize
> on this capability now.
> = Next Steps =
> Such a change needs to be discussed in the Ubuntu community. Therefore, I
> asked my team to put together a strawman proposal for how such moving to a
> monthly cadence with rolling release might work. I will be discussing a
> rough outline of  this proposal on Friday 27th Feb at 6pm UTC / 10am
> Pacific / 1pm EST at http://www.ubuntuonair.com<http://www.ubuntuoneair.com>.
> Then we can talk specifics next week at UDS.
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