I have enjoyed watching for a particular point in the time-based release cycles that I’ve been involved in over the past few years — the moment at which the community starts to talk about The Next Release. It generally pops up when developers discuss changes that have to be punted to The Next Release, due to the lock-down freezes imposed in the lead up to a release.
An upstream project like GNOME will reach this point later than a distribution such as Ubuntu. This was a surprise to me, but it makes a lot of sense. An major upstream project like GNOME defines the software landscape, and has relatively few external technology dependencies. When interesting infrastructure technologies such as Avahi or Xgl become ready for use late in the release cycle, that’s a catalyst for talking about The Next Release, but most of the time the focus is on right now.
Distros face a different issue — the entire gamut of Free Software projects, more or less, are dependencies. It’s like lining up ducks on buttery ice. So if a new gcc is barfed out of the buildchain soup kitchen, you have to think very hard about whether it’s worth the pain to make the switch. Ideally, your buildchain goals will be defined before you even start a new release tree. You get to know the level of difficulty other project updates pose after doing it for a while. GNOME is easy. OpenOffice.org is hard. That kind of thing.
So while GNOME developers have really only been mentioning 2.15 for about two or three months, the “dapper+1” release has been a hot topic in the Ubuntu community for almost the entire dapper cycle. I imagine that has quite a lot to do with dapper being a pretty conservative release in Ubuntu terms, with its long-term support commitment high on everyone’s minds.
We don’t know what the “dapper+1” release name will be until it’s announced, but given that we’ve started tracking the alphabet, I’ve been pushing for “edgy”. That fits very nicely with our major goal for The Next Release, which roughly translates to “OKAY PEOPLE, IT’S TIME TO LIGHT THE CRACKPIPE AGAIN!” We’ve been so focused on making dapper rock solid for massive adoption that we haven’t done a huge amount of exciting, bleeding-edge stuff. Well sure, Matthew Garrett has, but he really enjoys the taste — and texture — of blood.
Anyway, to get to my point, I’m going to totally abuse the conventions of talking about The Next Release: I can’t wait for edgy+1. I want it to be called Foxy Feline. Not just because it’s going to be waaaay foxy, but because we get to sing…
We built this kitty!
We built this kitty!
We built this kitty on rock and roll!
There. I said it.