Debian Decides to Adopt Time-Based Release Freezes


The Debian project has decided to adopt a new policy of time-based development freezes for future releases, on a two-year cycle. Freezes will from now on happen in the December of every odd year, which means that releases will from now on happen sometime in the first half of every even year.  

To that effect the next freeze will happen in December 2009, with a release expected in spring 2010. The project chose December as a suitable freeze date since spring releases proved successful for the
releases of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (codenamed “Etch”) and Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (“Lenny”).

Time-based freezes will allow the Debian Project to blend the predictability of time based releases with its well established policy offeature based releases. The new freeze policy will provide better predictability of releases for users of the Debian distribution, and also allow Debian developers to do better long-term planning.  A two-year release cycle will give more time for disruptive changes, reducing inconveniences caused for users. Having predictable freezes should also reduce overall freeze time.

Since Debian’s last release happened on Feb. 14th 2009, there will only be approximately a one year period until its next release, Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 (codenamed “Squeeze”). ¬†This will be a one-time exception
to the two-year policy in order to get into the new time schedule. To accommodate the needs of larger organisations and other users with a long upgrade process, the Debian project commits to provide the possibility to skip the upcoming release and do a skip-upgrade straight from Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (“Lenny”) to Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 (not yet codenamed).

Although the next freeze is only a short time away, the Debian project hopes to achieve several prominent goals with it. The most important are multi-arch support, which will improve the installation of 32 bit packages on 64 bit machines, and an optimised boot process for better boot performance and reliability.

The new freeze policy was proposed and agreed during the Debian Project’s yearly conference, DebConf, which is currently taking place in Caceres, Spain. The idea was well received among the attending project members.