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Updated freeze policy for bullseye and (tentative) freeze dates

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Dear all,

As promised [1], here is another Bits from the release team. This time,
we'll inform you about our updated freeze policy for the bullseye
release and our (tentative) freeze dates.

Changes to the freeze policy

For the bullseye release, we have updated our freeze policy. An
up-to-date copy can always be found on our web-site at [2]. There are
some changes with respect to the buster freeze policy that we like to
mention here (for full details, read [2]).

1. We have extended the Transition Freeze to include packages that are
(transitively) part of (build-)essential, so it's now called the
Transition and (build-)essentials Freeze. If you maintain any of said
packages, we expect you stop uploading them at the start of the Freeze.
If you think changes are needed anyway, please coordinate with the
release team before uploading to unstable. Consider staging changes in

2. We have introduced a new milestone between the Soft Freeze and the
Full Freeze, dubbed the Hard Freeze. During the Hard Freeze, key
packages and packages without (non-trivial) autopkgtests are
automatically blocked from migrating. These packages will require a
manual unblock from the release team to migrate, just like in the Full

   For other package (i.e. non-key packages with (non-trivial)
autopkgtests), we expect maintainers to follow the rules of our freeze
policy. However, to reduce the workload for package maintainers and the
release team, we will not automatically fully block packages during most
of the freeze. These packages will be allowed to migrate after 20 days
if they meet the regular Soft Freeze requirements. For these package,
there is no need to ask for an unblock.

3. During the Full freeze, all packages will require a manual unblock.
We only intend to start the Full Freeze shortly before the actual
release of bullseye. The starting date of the Full Freeze will be
decided when we start planning a release date and will be announced at
least 14 days before it comes into effect.

4. We have made it more explicit in our policy that you should only
upload changes to unstable during the freeze that are targeted at

5. We have extended some examples of appropriate and non-appropriate
changes during the freeze and we have added a FAQ [3] for unblocks. We
intend to expand and update this FAQ as we're progressing in the freeze.

Freeze dates

We are currently considering the following dates as our freeze dates.
There not totally set in stone yet, but we don't expect us to change

2021-01-12      - Milestone 1 - Transition and (build-)essentials freeze
2021-02-12      - Milestone 2 - Soft Freeze
2021-03-12      - Milestone 3 - Hard Freeze - for key packages and
                                packages without autopkgtests
To be announced - Milestone 4 - Full Freeze


We hope that our freeze policy gives a clear description of the coming
freeze. However, if you find some parts of our policy to be unclear,
please reach out to us so we can discuss how to make it clearer.

On behalf of the Release Team,

[1] https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2020/02/msg00005.html
[2] https://release.debian.org/bullseye/freeze_policy.html
[3] https://release.debian.org/bullseye/FAQ.html


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