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HTML version at: http://stormi.lautre.net/fichiers/mageia/releasecycle.html

Mageia release cycle study, by Stormi. (in progress)

I'll try to summarize user's needs, then study various release cycles (rolling, stable + backports...) regarding those needs. Then try to propose a process which answers to most user needs while remaining realistic.

Sorry, it's quite long, because I tried to cover as much matters as I could.

Who I am :

Samuel Verschelde, aka Stormi. Mandrake then Mandriva Linux user since 2004, contributed first by testing and end-user support on forums, then slowly got to packaging (after reporting more than 100 bugs on games packages, they told me "you'll get an account then fix them yourself :P"). Sometimes technically weak, maintaining few packages but sometimes doing something useful. Weird kind of packager which uses cooker only from the first beta to the final release (for bug squashing) and tries to backport packages that user's need or ask to stable releases. I try to stay close tto end-users and to listen to their needs, even if I can't answer all of them. My boss says I've got a strong sense of empathy.
I use Mandriva at home, at work (workstation) and on servers (more than 450 servers in french hospitals).
You can often find me on the #mageia irc channel on freenode.

Vocabulary used in this document:

ofaurax's comment : I think we realy need to categorize packages like this. Updating the kernel with the same rule as Firefox is nonsense.

End-user needs taken into account in this document:

Mageia's specific needs or constraints :

In what follows :

Solution 1 : full rolling release (like archlinux)

Description :
Full rolling release : core packages, server packages, environment packages, non-core packages. Like cooker, but with guaranteed stability.
Advantages : Disadvantages : Discussion :
Conclusion :
Not realistic. Not for a distribution which targets beginners, power-users, workstation and server and use in corporate or research/education (almost same needs) situations.

Solution 2 : status quo (the current Mandriva Linux way)

Description : Advantages : Disadvantages : Discussion :
Conclusion :
Works, but we could do better, especially on support lifetime and backports side.

Solution 3 : "light" rolling release

Description : Advantages : Disadvantages : Discussion :
May work. Sexy for end-users if well done (ie no breakage). Potential stability issues on GUI apps which may make the distribution not suitable for corporate desktop.
Conclusion :
I don't know. May be the way to follow, or not.

Solution 4 : stable release + supported backports (1 year cycle) + LTS

Description : Advantages : Disadvantages : Discussion :
This is much like the "light rolling release" proposal (it brings the same advantages), but keeping the possibility to only install security and bugfix packages, and cherry-picking the new versions for the few software you really need in their latest version.
Conclusion :
It's the release cycle I'm proposing for Mageia (there are probably some parts to amend, but globally this is what I think we should do, or at least envision).

Solution 5 : stable release + supported backports (6-month cycle) + LTS

Description : Advantages (as compared to solution 4): Disadvantages (as compared to solution 4) : Discussion :
I fear that with a 6-month cycle, backports wouldn't be as frequent and as well supported as they could be in a 1 year cycle (less testing for each backport because of the many releases to support)
Conclusion :
If the 1-year cycle were a problem, this would become my proposed solution.

Thoughts :

Existing discussion about the subject

A selection of some discussions around release cycle and impacts


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