Ubuntu Technical Board Looks at Shuttleworth’s Proposal for Release Management Methodology

In this article, the news team invited Rick Spencer, Vice President of Ubuntu Engineering, to comment on the decisions by the Ubuntu Technical Board and how they will impact users.

The Ubuntu Technical Board (TB) discussed Ubuntu Founder, Mark Shuttleworth’s proposal to tweak the release management methodology of Ubuntu releases in its 18 March meeting. Shuttleworth’s proposal was a follow up to Vice President of Ubuntu Engineering, Rick Spencer’s original proposal and also harvest the fruits of the discussion that followed.

The TB is now referring to the non-LTS releases as “standard” releases. This change is in response to feedback that the term “Interim Release” denotes an unimportant release, and recognizes that these releases are in fact, important to many people.

During this meeting the following votes occurred.

The first vote was very crisp: Reduce maintenance period for regular/standard (non-LTS) Ubuntu releases from 18 months to 9 months (starting with release TBD)

What does this mean for users?

This means that users of the standard/non-LTS releases will have three months after the *next* release to update. So, if you are a standard/non-LTS user expect to upgrade to the next release about every six months, with a three month grace period if you can’t upgrade for some reason.

Why is this change important?

This change is important to the Ubuntu Community because it means that there will be fewer stable/LTS releases being supported at any one time. These stable/LTS releases will be better supported and leave developers and other contributors with more energy to focus on designing and implementing the next big idea. As Ubuntu enters the age of convergent devices, its contributors will need all the energy they can get for that development.

The second vote was about the “when” and the TB was asked to vote on Implementation of the above change to the maintenance schedule effective in 13.04 release and later.

What does this mean for users?

This means that the TB voted that the 13.04 release will get nine months of support. There was discussion about applying the principle retroactively, back to the 12.10 release; however, the TB felt this was backing out a promise and they did not want to set such a precedent.

The third and final vote was about allowing users to easily “track the tip” of development.

What does this mean for users?

This is akin to providing what Rick Spencer had labelled a “rolling release”. The general idea being that a user could opt for continuous upgrades on what is essentially the development release. For example, if a user was running the development series and updating daily then when 13.04 became a standard/non-LTS release, that user wouldn’t have to to do anything to then start getting updates for the 13.10 release.

The TB voted to allow the development team to enable this capability of tracking the development release without intervention. However, the specific implementation questions yet to be determined include how to enable users to continuously track the development focus of Ubuntu without having to explicitly upgrade.


All votes were unanimous among all three members of the TB that were present.

Discussions that followed the vote was based on how to better support the LTS release with optional upgrades. For example, could someone backport Unity to the previous stable/LTS release so that LTS release users could get the improved experience, if they desired. This topic was moved to next TB meeting.

For more information on the Ubuntu TB Meetings please see: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TechnicalBoard

Rick Spencer, Vice President of Ubuntu Engineering

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One Response to “Ubuntu Technical Board Looks at Shuttleworth’s Proposal for Release Management Methodology”

  1. required Says:

    Yeah, i gotta feeling most people use LTSes anyway so great move there, I’d love to see newer Unity backported to 12.04. Keep up the good work!

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