Always-Releasable Debian Means Shorter Waits

by Ostatic Staff - May. 10, 2013

Lars Wirzenius has been around since the beginning. In fact, he was a friend of Linus' who went to the same college where Linux was born. He co-founded the Linux Documentation Project and describes himself as a "hacker, programmer, and software developer," but Debian seems to be his passion. So, when he pens an essay, it's probably worth reading and this time he's thinking Debian releases take too long.

It took nearly two years for Debian 7.0 to reach the masses. Wirzenius and co-writer Russ Allbery (Debian hacker) say a big portion of that was eaten up by the 10-month freeze, which just stressed everyone out. Wheezy's freeze was four months longer than past releases and at that Wirzenius feels they are too long. He says, "We should aim for a short freeze, perhaps as short as two weeks, and certainly not longer than two months." But an "always releasable" Debian would require some big changes.

Wirzenius says the first thing that needs to change is their attitudes. He says everyone needs to take ownership of releases, not just the release team and realize that releases are important. He thinks testing should be kept free of RC bugs and use automatic testing more. Then he says they "should limit the number of packages we strongly care about for a release."

Wirzenius also believes reference installations should be declared crucial and "each reference installation should have a clearly defined purpose, and therefore a clearly defined list of packages that must be included."  An ssh server, desktop system, or print server might be part of those reference installations. If a package isn't crucial to one of those reference installation, it isn't crucial to release.  Then, as a result of consistancy, automatic testing could be used more often.

The duo conclude by saying their suggestions would "make the jessie release cycle and release process smoother, and increase the quality of the end result."