For the past few weeks I’ve taken up a new experiment–attempting to install rawhide every day. Rawhide is unique in that it is a daily development snapshot that only exists publicly for one day. If you have disc space, naturally you can save multiple days locally.
I am tracking my results at Rawhide Today. This idea occurred to me after a previous post on testing and milestones and the resulting discussions I had with Fedora QA and Release Engineering when we were hammering out the Fedora 9 schedule.
Back in October 2007, I was contending for longer testing periods for the test releases–always the first thing to go in most software schedules. The argument kept coming back that the Alpha, Beta, etc. release testing phase durations were really not that important because they are just point-in-time snapshots of rawhide. The only unique thing about them being that install media was created and distributed and that they quickly became stale as rawhide churns after their release. Fedora 9 was planned differently in that weekly snapshots were planned for release each week after the beta started.
From January 2008 through March rawhide was largely uninstallable on a daily basis, based mostly on my own experience and anecdotal comments on the mailings lists. I also had an automated install job running each night inside Red Hat’s test lab, but the email notifications usually showed failure or there was a configuration problem with the testing framework that I didn’t have time to research.
Now I’m just using VMWare and Snake everyday and still asking myself how important the Alpha and Beta releases are to the quality of our Fedora releases and if rawhide really is a suitable alternative.