Good to see that Debian 7.0 Wheezy was released last week after a 10 month release freeze. Some people think this is far too long, myself included.
Russ Allbery and Lars Wirzenius have written up a proposal to improve the Debian release process, with much inspiration from the agile development method. In short, they want to promote the Testing distribution to a state that it is always releasable, at least to the extent that the entire release process takes only 2 weeks to a month (or so, at most).
In brief, the proposal covers :
- Keep the Testing distribution as close to releasable as possible, with more constant attention to bug fixing (especially release critical bugs).
- More constant and automated testing done of the distribution.
- Focus on ensuring the right core packages are ready and releasable, being less concerned with those packages deemed of secondary importance.
The idea that Testing be changed to either a rolling release or to some form of constantly releasable distribution comes up regularly e.g. see Tanglu and CUT. Allbery and Wirzenius are very well known Debian "old-hands" though, so may be able to make more of a impression on the project. I hope so, but Debian is a very democratic and distributed organisation and consensus is hard to build on this type of question. Debian is also well known for its focus on stability rather than freshness, and stability is an admirable goal. I think the process Allbery and Wirzenius describe can speed a release without sacrificing this by optimising and focusing resource better though. Automation may be the key.
Finally, I really appreciate all the hard work done by all the Debian developers and contributors - I've been running Debian Linux on all my machines for a few years now, a very satisfied user. Like many, I installed Testing many months ago but the long stabilisation period is a bit of a drawback. Right now, it's fine but fairly soon it will start to seem slightly stale. This is less of a problem for a server but more of one for a desktop. A way of optimising the release and update process would be very welcome.