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

Chris Coulson chrisccoulson at ubuntu.com
Thu Feb 28 18:02:20 UTC 2013

On 28/02/13 15:31, Rick Spencer 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.

I can't tell you how happy I am that this is happening. The existing 
release model is quite a burden to me (and the security team), being the 
people who have to keep all of our users updated with the latest version 
of their favourite browser. Supporting all of the interim releases is 
quite a resource drain, and this is something I've been wishing would 
happen for a while :)


More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list