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Re: Question for all candidates: Release process

Le Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 08:09:19AM +0100, Lucas Nussbaum a écrit :
> During the last debconf, the freeze of squeeze was first announced to
> take place in December, then this decision was cancelled, and now we are
> in March.
> - How do you analyze what happened during last summer? What went wrong?
> - What is your opinion on the motivations for the proposal to freeze in
>   December? Specifically, in the future, should we try to coordinate our
>   release process with Ubuntu's?
> - So, we are now in March. What is your opinion with the release process
>   so far? When do you see the release happening?

Hi Lucas,

I was really disapointed when I read the press release. After announcing a
decision to the public, it is very difficult to change it; it really gave me
the impression to have my arm twisted. The freeze of Lenny was quite long, and
I tried to play the game, not updating my packages but doing release-oriented
work (including some tasks very specific to Debian Med, which did not have an
impact on Lenny's releasability). As a consequence, I was very worried that I
would not be able to update my packages to all the new upstream releases that
happened during the freeze, if we would freeze again in December.

This said, I am well aware that all my packages are not essential to Debian's
life, and I decided to not complain too much and trust the judgement of the
release team.  However, my personal opinion was that it is not a good idea to
release Debian with packages less up to date and a shorter security support
than Ubuntu. I would rather release on the years where there is no Ubuntu LTS.
This way, people trained to use dpkg-based distributions have the opportunity
to install a recent release with a reasonably long support each year, instead
of each second year. I think that this would maximise Debian and Ubuntu's
user base.

In this elections I propose to change our release philosophy. Depending how
oftern the kernel, libc, GNU, GCC, X.org, and other bright software stars align
in the sky, it could mean that we could release a core distribution more often
(than each second year) if we were interested in committing to this effort.
Still, a synchronisation with Ubuntu is taking the problem in the wrong
direction, I think. I do not have a long experience in collaborations with
Ubuntu but it seems that to meet deadlines, they do not hesitate to diverge
with upstream projects much more than what we are used to. I do not think that
we shall follow them in this path. I see more collaborations made on
opportunity basis, when both distribution's choices are naturally converging.
We can not promise to be ready to release the 1st of April 2012.

Now we are in March and I do not know when we will release. For the Lenny
release, with the release goals, the progressive freeze and information emails
from the release team, we went through milesones that I think helped a lot the
Project have a good feeling of the timing. The last footstep took more time.
It was written often that it is because there were too many RC bugs, but I
think that the true reason is that we were waiting for the installer team. I do
not write this to throw a stone to them, but to repeat once again that fixing
abandonned package does not make the release closer [but if you have fun with
this, do not stop! Debian is also about having fun]. Turning the spotlights on
the most difficult blockers would be very helpful.

I do not know if we can release soon, in the sense that I do not know if the
packages providing the core functionalities of our operating system are ready.
Honestly, as a DD I am not interested to fix bugs like python packages that do
not work with version 2.6 if the maintainer does not at least ask for help (I
would rather be interested to participate to bolder package removal sessions).
If many other DDs share the same impression, and if all RC bugs are left in the
same bag without indication of priority, then we probably will not release
soon. Milestones like freezing the toolchain would send a strong message that
it is time to refocus our efforts from our own packages and team to the last

Since the original plan was to release with Ubuntu LTS and that will not be
done, as a DPL I would ask the release team to update the project on its plans.
Have we lost the announced benefits of a joint release and postopone for more
than a couple of months to allow more developments, or are we very close to
freeze our core toolchains anyway ? Frans Pop wrote an insightful email on how
the release is also a lot of communication work. If I am elected DPL, I will
emphasise this role in the delegation given to the release managers.

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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