Predictable Cadence: Shuttleworth Chimes in on Debian Release Cycle

Aug 06, 2009

Controversy over fixed release cycles for Debian is nothing new. Now Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth has entered into the fray.

With its end-of-July announcement that it would adopt a 24-month development cycle, the Debian release team once again opened up its favorite topic of discussion. In mail on the Debian project list, Ubuntu founder Shuttleworth has now aired his views on the subject and referred back to the importance of maintaining regular, synchronized releases:

"Well, the first thing is to agree on the idea of a predictable cadence. Although the big threads on this list are a little heartbreaking for me to watch, I'm glad that there hasn't been a lot of upset at the idea of a cadence in Debian so much as *which* cadence. We can solve the latter, we couldn't solve the former. So I'm happy at least at that :-)."

Shuttleworth bases the importance of release cadence on the ease in which Linux might thereby gain acceptance, in that a fixed development cycle (say, of two years) stabilizes the main components. He had been harping on this theme for some time now in his blog, and revealed that even Red Hat would consider such a release cycle if a consensus were reached.

Shuttleworth's second point was that it's not about Ubuntu vs. Debian, not about Debian needing to change to meet Ubuntu's needs. He warned against being that short-sighted and that a regular release cycle would benefit all Linux distros: "This gets much more powerful the more of them we bring to the same forum."

A final point Shuttleworth made was that the loudest protest came from those who had nothing much to offer the discussion but to rail against any cooperation with Ubuntu. One of those voices in an immediate response to the mail was Debian's Julien Blache:

"I don't believe in the 100% end-user-centric focus you're displaying in your mail. [...] Once I've removed that from your mail, and the 'but Ubuntu loves you!' stuff, there's nothing left."

There was also some constructive feedback, such as that major releases may not even be called for in the future, instead users might simply keep their systems up to date on a continuous basis.

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