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

Thierry Carrez ttx at ubuntu.com
Wed Mar 6 13:27:51 UTC 2013

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.
> [snip]

I'm a bit late to the party, but here are my 2c:

The post is enthusiastic, but this is not a win-win: it's basically a
trade-off, and while there are numerous benefits, you shouldn't ignore
the drawbacks.

On the benefits side, there is, as Colin pointed out, the idea of
"reducing engineering effort so that it can be diverted towards other
things". It also allows to unleash shiny new things faster to a
potentially larger group of users, which could align well with the
"let's rewrite significant parts of the foundations ourselves" strategy.

I don't really buy the "avoids waiting 6 months if you miss the boat"
argument. You're replacing a 6-month cadence with a 2-year cadence, and
those missing the LTS boat will have to wait *2 years*. Like Ted pointed
out, LTS becomes your deadline. LTS becomes your release. You just turn
6-month-lived ubuntu-under-development into a 2-year-lived, hopefully
more stable and usable, 2-year-lived ubuntu-under-development.

On the drawbacks side, you lose the benefit of exercising the release
processes on non-LTS, "interim" releases. Rehearsing how to do it and
improving iteratively every 6 months has some value.

More importantly, you lose most of the benefits of the cadence that
sabdfl was praising not so long ago. Giving a fast rhythm allows you to
focus your development community and upstream communities on common
goals, and lets you have a breathing pulse overall (the 6-month physical
UDS helped in that respect as well). It encourages your developer
community to deliver more on a smaller period of time. You can enforce
deadlines internally within Canonical, but for everyone else the
artificial cadence was everything you had.

So it's a trade-off. You gain some and lose some. Depending on your
agenda and your position in the Ubuntu community, you'll have a
different opinion on this, and consensus will be a bit hard to find.


Thierry Carrez (ttx)
Release Manager, OpenStack

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