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PR: Significant Change in Mandrake Linux Development Process

Feb 02, 2004, 22:00 (15 Talkback[s])

MandrakeSoft today announced a major evolution in the way that future Mandrake Linux distributions will be engineered and released. The purpose of this new development process is to provide the highest level of new features, as well as maximizing the quality of new products. This new release road map will be effective for the upcoming Mandrake Linux 10.0.

The old development way:

Since 1999, Mandrake Linux has been developed through the "Cooker" development process. Cooker is an experimental distribution that is constantly being updated and modified. Cooker is publicly available in real time through a network of FTP mirrors, CVS servers, translation tools, a Wiki website, and various mailing lists. Currently more than 1,000 contributors are involved in this process.

Traditionally, when a new Mandrake Linux release is approaching, the state of Cooker is frozen and goes through a Beta/Release Candidate cycle that leads to a final release which is then provided as a free Download version and also used for commercial retail Packs. This development scheme provides a dynamic and innovative development process. With this system, Mandrake Linux became one of the first Linux distribution to introduce a partitioning utility during the installation process, a journalized file system, dynamical device management, the CUPS printing system, and so on. All of these developments were introduced and tested in Cooker before being selected as new features for the official final release.

Although this development scheme is an improvement compared to other traditional development models, it still can be improved. Even though Cooker boasts a large testing audience and long beta-testing cycles, it remains impossible to test all of the various hardware and software configurations that are available on today's complex PCs. As a result, unresolved issues are regularly discovered *after* an official release when the new product is most widely used. Even worse, critical issues may then be discovered, such as the LG CD-ROM drive incompatibility problem in Mandrake Linux 9.2, which was discovered and reported only after the final release was made. After each new release an errata page (which contains problems and resolutions) is soon made available, so it's often useful to wait 1 or 2 months after an official release to be aware of all identified issues.

As a result, MandrakeSoft has decided to extend its Cooker Open Source development model to improve the quality level of its products. The new development scheme will answer the needs of both those who want all the best innovations as soon as available, even at the risk of minor glitches, and those who don't mind to wait and prefer an improved reliability.

The new release road map:

The spirit of the new development road map is to keep providing a release similar to what was released in the past, which will now be called "Mandrake Linux Community." This is the regular Mandrake Linux distribution, based on Cooker, which goes through the traditional QA process. But from now on, a second 'rock-solid' version titled "Mandrake Linux Official" will be released two or three months after Mandrake Linux Community. This new version will include all Erratas applied to the initial release, and as a result will be particularly solid and problem-free. The Community release will be ideal for those who want the 'latest and greatest' features as soon as available, while the second release will be perfect for those who prefer to wait and avoid any potential glitches.

What follows is the development process for our next major release, Mandrake Linux 10.0:

  1. After the traditional debugging of several Beta and Release Candidates, the final version of "Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community" will be released in February/March. This version will be available for download and as a DVD-set through e-Commerce.
  2. Then a Mandrake Linux 10.0 Stable branch will be opened, based on Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community. Security updates and bug fixes will be applied to this tree and will be publicly available in real time.
  3. Two or three months later, in April/May, "Mandrake Linux 10.0 Official" will be created from the Mandrake 10.0 Stable branch. It will then be packaged for several products such as the Mandrake Linux PowerPack. Mandrake 10.0 Official ISO images will also be available for all contributors and Club Members; then, after a short delay, Mandrake Linux 10.0 Official Download Edition will be made available on public FTP mirrors.

Regarding product support:

  • During the time between Mandrake 10.0 Community and Mandrake 10.0 Official, all updates will be available for download through the official Mandrake 10.0 stable branch.
  • Beginning with the release of Mandrake 10.0 Official, updates will be available as usual from the official update tree and will apply both to Mandrake 10.0 Community & Mandrake 10.0 Official.

Please note that this schedule is subject to change, depending on its completion and results.

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