I’m throwing down a challenge for Fedora 14–we ship all three releases: Alpha, Beta, and Final on time.  I’m not advocating cutting any corners or lowering our standards.  I expect them to remain the same.  What I would like to see is more discipline and fortitude about what changes get committed and when.  And where necessary, start a tiny bit earlier than we might have in the past.  I’ve spelled out some other ideas in a previous post.

I saw something new during the press cycle for Fedora 13. Something along the lines of, “Fedora 13 was released and as usual, it was late by a couple of weeks.”  They are correct.  Our last five releases have been late by two weeks or more.  Our release and testing processes are now mature enough that we are capable of releasing on time.

During the creation of the Fedora 14 Release Engineering schedule we had a discussion around how to set certain schedule dates.  Through discussion in the ticket and IRC it came out that Release Engineering feels responsible when Fedora is late.  Being late is a problem we all share and have a part in.  Release Engineering’s job is to compile the packages and provide them in a consumable form–an installable distribution. That is all.  If the content they receive to build and compose (a term which loosely translated means to “create an installable release or installable tree”) is broken, it is not their fault.  The package maintainer and the rest of us who could help with testing are.

I know unexpected stuff breaks, people are human, and “software schedules are usually late.” We can hold to a higher standard by mitigating these risks.  In the grand scheme of things, two weeks late on a software release is hardly anything, and yet, given a choice, I’d like Fedora to be known as the distribution that always ships on time.

I’m doing everything in my power this release to make sure people are aware of where we are in the release cycle and what needs to be done.  This includes working with each team to make sure they have well built schedules and associated weekly reminders. I’m also taking a more active role to make sure that blocker bugs (bugs that must be fixed before we ship) are widely advertised and get more attention prior to the weekly blocker review meetings.

How are you planning to help?