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Call for Testing: Unofficial Debian Monthly Testing Snapshot Release Candidate (version 2011.03rc1)

Hello world,

I am pleased to announce the very first unofficial Debian monthly
testing snapshot release candidate (version 2011.03rc1). This release is
currently available in two flavors, i386 and amd64, as mini iso images
(16 MiB each) downloadable from:

These files can be written to CD or DVD media or directly to a USB
stick. Instructions for USB installation can be found here:

The testing period will be 5 days, and if no showstoppers are found in
that time frame, this will be the 2011.03 final release, which is
currently targeted for March 6th. Since this is not a stable release, a
much reduced subset of bugs will be considered showstopping (a
different criteria than stable's release critical bugs). These only
1.  Failure to install from scratch using default/common options
2.  Failure to boot into a graphical environment

There may be more criteria identified in the future.  If you think an
issue qualifies as a showstopping bug, please send a message to
cut-team@lists.alioth.debian.org, and we will determine whether it is
worth delaying the release.  If showstopper bugs are indeed found, then
the previous month's nightly generated media will be bisected to find
the one prior to introduction of the bug.  That will be the second
release candidate, and there will be another announcement and 5 day
testing period for that.

Note that these monthly snapshot releases will be guaranteed to be
upgradable (all new releases will have >= package versions compared to
the previous release). However, there is no guarantee that there won't
be breakages or regressions in particular packages between upgrades.
This may be somewhat solvable via automated piuparts upgrade testing in
the future.  This will need someone interested to work on this
particular problem.

IMPORTANT: release candidates will not necessarily be upgradable since
subsequent versions may include packages that are older than those in
the previous version. Please consider this carefully before installing
from release candidate media on important machines.

Note also that there will be no inherent security support for these
snapshot releases.  The images do automatically set up testing-security
as an apt source during installation, so any DTSA's (Debian Testing
Security Advisories) will be automatically applied to snapshot
installations. However, the security team does not issue many updates
this way anymore (optioning instead to primarily use unstable uploads
as a means to fix testing). This is another area that could potentially
be improved if there are volunteers interested in this problem. For more
information on current testing security processes, see:

Ideally for those wishing to have a mostly security supported system,
the snapshot media will simply be a reliable stepping stone for
installation followed by an upgrade to testing proper, which does
receive quasi-official support from the security team (i.e. uploads to
unstable that transition to testing).

Note that this is an unofficial project since it does not come with the
backing or support from Debian as a team, but hopefully that will
change in the future as the concept is proven out.

This message is being limited only to the debian-devel list to
(hopefully) keep the load on existing resources small for now, and to
determine whether a more robust hosting solution will be necessary for
future releases.  This also provides a chance for feedback and
contributions from the devel community before attempting to target a
wider audience.  Please keep in mind that this is an unofficial
test/development release before spreading the word too much.

Anyway, enjoy!  And send feedback to cut-team@lists.alioth.debian.org.

Best wishes,
Mike Gilbert

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