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15 March 2010, 10:42

Shuttleworth says progress made on distribution cadence

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Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, says some progress has been made towards what he calls cadence, an alignment of versions and release schedules, between distributions, even though his earlier proposals of a formal alignment between Debian and Ubuntu were not taken up. He points to an informal synchronisation between Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and Debian Squeeze on the Kernel, GCC, Python,, Perl and Boost versions, as an example of progress.

Shuttleworth sees cadence as a net benefit to the Linux community, allowing better sharing of upstream development. On his blog he is proposing that a "Goldilocks cadence" with a two year cycle is "just right". Shuttleworth says that "Two years is a compromise between those who want 1 year releases for better support of cutting-edge hardware and those who want 7 year releases so their software stack doesn’t change before their job description does".

The plan would involve selecting a common base version of the various upstream projects with distributions agreeing to support those common base versions in a future release. As yet unreleased versions could be selected as a common base version, depending on the reputation of the upstream community.

Shuttleworth is inviting upstream developers and distributions to participate in this process. He believes upstream developers can continue working as they currently are, "but embracing a two year cadence is the best way you have to be sure which versions of software are going to be in millions of hands in the future". There is, says Shuttleworth, no binding commitment on distribution makers ("collaboration is opportunistic"), but hopes that if more distributions take part they will all benefit – "If a lot of distributions pick the same base upstream version, it greatly increases the value of extended shared maintenance and point releases of that upstream".


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