FreeBSD released version 5.3 this weekend, and declared 5.3 to be their new stable release. This is a significant step in the evolution of the FreeBSD OS, given that 4.x-STABLE originally debuted in March of 2000 and the 5.x-RELEASES have been around since Jan 2003.
Why am I posting about this? Well, my own server setup uses FreeBSD 5.x, so it will be nice to be able to get it up to a “stable” point, so I’m just excited about it in general. The other reason I think this is interesting, is because of a posting one of the FreeBSD developers made to the FreeBSD-current mailing list. In the posting, FreeBSD 6.0 and onwards, Scott Long talks about the reasons behind their long overdue major version increment and describes the change in direction the FreeBSD development process is taking…
By the middle of 2002 is was very apparent that we needed to start focusing on getting 5.0 released. Unfortunately, we fell into the trap of wanting to finish more features in order to feel good about 5.x. We kept on ignoring the fact that 5.x already had a lot of good and needed features, and that the number one goal needed to be to get it stabilized and turned into 5-STABLE. Instead we drew up a road map document that dictated releases based on features rather than on stability and, even more importantly, timeliness.
The new cycle, Long says, will be more geared towards “calendar-based” releases rather than “feature-based”. Which will enable FreeBSD users to “plan effectively for upgrades” through increased predictability of release times. The proposed timeline so far is a 12-18month cycle for major releases and a 4-6month cycle for point releases.
Being fairly new to FreeBSD myself, I haven’t really head much about FreeBSD’s development cycle, but it’s good to know that there seems to be a open line of discussion between the developers and the users.