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Q&A: Defending Ubuntu's Ambitious Release Cycle

LinuxPlanet steals a few moments with Jono Bacon, Ubuntu's community manager, to find out just why the popular Linux distribution maintains such a grueling dual release cycle -- and whether Ubuntu's developers are trying to cram too much into a six-month release interval.

The popular Ubuntu Linux's six-month release schedule keeps it in the public eye; every release is greeted with a barrage of news, reviews, praise, and complaints. It seems the last few releases have generated an increasing number of cries for longer release schedules, that six months is too short and results in too many bugs.

Mark Shuttleworth discussed at length the importance and benefits of a short release cycle in his Linuxcon keynote: it generates excitement and keeps contributors motivated. And it follows the long-standing principles of "many eyes make all bugs shallow" and "release early, release often."

Ubuntu has a dual release cycle: every six months a new alliterative critter is loosed upon the world, and the Long-Term Support (LTS) releases occur every two years. I poked around Ubuntu.com looking for more information on Ubuntu's release cycles and didn't find much in the way of explanations and what users should expect. The Ubuntu Release Cycle contains release schedules, and Maintenance policy and life-cycle: Ubuntu Server Edition details the server edition.

A search for "release cycles" on Ubuntu.com returns a number of discussions proposing an annual release instead of six months; proponents of an annual release believe the six-month releases are too buggy and want more pre-release testing.

As with all things Linux, all of this debating is fun and entertaining, but not always conclusive. So I decided to go to the source and ask Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager, to explain the Ubuntu release cycle and clarify some of the whys and wherefores.

Read the full story at LinuxPlanet