Ubuntu magic: releases

I’ve always admired the way how a large-scale community-developed open-source project — Ubuntu — can deliver new releases with the predictability and regularity of high-quality clockwork. Every six months, a new version comes out with every fourth one getting polished to LTS (Long Term Support) quality.

Mark Shuttleworth, the SABFDL of Ubuntu, has shared his views and thoughts about why and how to manage the release cycle of complex software products. If you’re interested in the topic, then it’s a good read even if you don’t happen to share his preference to free and open source software.

3 Responses to “Ubuntu magic: releases”

  • Well, there are 3 constraints – with given manpower you balance between time, quality and feature. If time is fixed all your playing room is between quality and features. It’s sad to see distros jumping to poor featured or poor quality fixed schedule. A common misunderstanding is that LTS has higher quality, it doesn’t and it can’t. Hardy heron is buggy as hell and Ubuntu in general falls short supporting usable versions in many-many areas. For example Eclipse in Ubuntu is big joke. It has ancient version, which, by the they, doesn’t run out of the box. It’s not updated in last 3 releases at least, even if good old download, untar, run provides much, much better experience.

    Fixed schedule means lower quality and/or less features. Full story.

  • While the time/quality/features triangle is certainly there, I would argue that your second-to-last statement is not entirely correct.

    Fixed schedule means lower quality and/or less features FOR THE NEXT RELEASE. Unfixing the release schedule doesn’t give you any better quality or more features within any given period of time.

    If you have a feature that — with given manpower — takes 9 months to develop and test, then you could get it into your next release if your release cycle is 9 months or more. With a 6-month release cycle, that feature would end up in second-next release.

    With a flexible release schedule, your next release could hit the streets in 9 months if your feature happens to be the feature. If there are other must-have features, then your feature would only see the light after all others are completed as well. Which will happen… when it will.

    I personally don’t believe in any software product ever becoming fully complete before becoming obsolete. And my personal preference is to receive smaller improvements regularly rather than huge “shiny new somethings” at random times.

  • Sorry Tarmo but why Eclipse is so special for taking this as an example? As far I know Ubuntu is specialised for homeusers and as far I know homeusers doesn’t usually do software analysis or programming.

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