CentOS details efforts to maintain speedy release schedule
CentOS developer Johnny Hughes has detailed recent efforts by the project to improve the release timing of the distribution. The CentOS team of volunteers has created new workflows and has also secured funding for developers to work full time on the project, and says that these efforts have already paid off.
Two CentOS developers are now being funded by corporate sponsors to work on the distribution full time for a total of 80 hours a week. According to Hughes, the motivation behind the sponsorship is purely the desire for faster updates and he says the move "should be huge in preventing future delays."
The team has also created a continuous release repository for the project which makes it possible to release independent packages from a CentOS point release without releasing the complete update set all at once. Using this repository, users can get important updates with minimal waiting time while the developers can concentrate on building the rest of the point release, including disk images and other necessary parts of the release workflow.
Other changes to the internal processes for the distribution include a scratch area where developers can test package builds, and improvements to the QA team's communication infrastructure. The developers say that these changes have already helped in getting CentOS releases out in a timely manner, especially with the releases this year.
CentOS is cloned from the source of a Linux distribution from "a prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor" (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and tries to track releases by that distribution as closely as possible. It is used by many web hosting companies and other organisations that want the benefit of Red Hat's distribution without paying for a support contract. In the past, CentOS has come under fire from some of its users for not shipping updates in a timely enough manner.
In an loosely related but amusing episode, CentOS lead developer Karanbir Singh recently wrote on his personal blog detailing the support calls he continues to receive to his, as far as he knows unpublished, personal phone number. This apparently included a call from a major defence contractor asking for clarification of their service agreement with CentOS and from a disgruntled airline customer who was wondering why the airline's booking page showed the default CentOS web server message instead of the flight check-in page.