Ubuntu: No more alphas, just one beta
At the Ubuntu Development Summit (UDS-R) in Copenhagen, the Ubuntu community has decided plans to create a more streamlined, continuous development for future versions of Ubuntu Linux – but this will see the end of all alpha releases and only one beta release. The current development summit is discussing plans for the development of Ubuntu 13.04, aka "Raring Ringtail".
The details, shared by Nicholas Skaggs, QA community coordinator at Canonical, paint a picture of the development process moving to a more continuously integrated process with bi-weekly testing throughout the development cycle and an emphasis on the automation of tests to ensure that the more repetitive but nevertheless essential tests are carried out regularly.
ISO images will be published daily and should be "smoke" tested to avoid "completely broken installers". With that work automated, using tools such as AutoPilot, the testing teams and community should be able to focus on validating and stressing newer functionality. The new bi-weekly cycles are described as the cadence, a term that has previously been used by Mark Shuttleworth to describe the overall release cycle.
Against this backdrop, the various flavours and remixes of Ubuntu will take complete control of their own release cycles, being able to chose whether they test, freeze or re-spin their version of the distribution according to their own timing and schedules. Skaggs expects that some will adopt the Ubuntu schedule, while others may well do "something completely different".
With there only being one beta and one final release of an Ubuntu version, the archive of code will now only be frozen late in the development cycle. This change could also allow for the introduction of Mark Shuttleworth's "Ta-da" features quite late in the development cycle, though currently it is unclear how they will be integrated into the tree; there could be a parallel testing effort for a version with those features included or if the features could be added earlier in the cycle to allow their testing to begin sooner.