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Bits from the Debian Installer release manager


Release pace

You might have noticed the first Alpha release of the Debian Installer
for Stretch published in late July. This release took some time (almost
3 months) because we were mostly awaiting the linux kernel, and such a
big version bump (3.16 → 4.0) needed quite some work to get into shape
for testing.

Since that big step is behind us, and since such a major change is less
likely to happen during the rest of the release cycle, I would like to
try and get more releases done, aiming for as many as a release per
month. There are many ways to have an installer release stalled though,
so it might be closer to a release every other month.

Packages producing udebs, and limited freeze

Many components are used to build the installer, but some of them are
not specific to it (e.g. cairo, libx11, xorg-server); they just happen
to build one or more udeb packages (packages to be used within the
installer). Since the release process of the installer usually takes
some days to get everything ready, it is both possible and likely to
have a few such packages migrating to testing while details are being
polished. Such updates sometimes cause behavorial changes or even
regressions. While those are being documented/fixed, some more packages
can be sneaking into testing, causing more surprises, and longer cycles.

That's why I'm going to use “block-udeb” hints to prevent the migration
of all udeb-producing packages during the final preparation of the
installer releases. Excuses produced by britney (the release team's
migration tool) should now point at the “d-i release manager” when the
migration of a package is blocked for this reason. If a speedy migration
is needed for any reasons, feel free to talk to me so that we can figure
out whether this package can be approved despite the block-udeb hints in
place, or whether it's safer to delay its migration until after the
installer release is published.

Changes affecting the installer

If you have a change affecting the installer, please coordinate with the
installer team through our mailing list (debian-boot@lists.debian.org)
so that we know about it before updated packages reach the archive. We
can't follow all mailing lists, and it's way better to have a
notification upfront than chasing strange behavorial changes after the
fact. So far I've tried to quickly respond to such mails with either
“that's fine, please go ahead whenever you're ready” or “please wait
until the next release is published”. There should be no huge delay
anyway if we can keep a steady release pace!

Thanks for your attention and for your cooperation.

Cyril Brulebois
Debian Installer release manager

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