Stable update procedures

Donnie Berkholz dberkholz at
Thu Jan 29 20:42:49 PST 2009

On 23:50 Thu 29 Jan     , James Westby wrote:
> I was actually thinking of sending this mail the other day, but the
> appearance of this article sealed it for me. I'm interested in the
> procedures that other distributions have for making changes to
> "stable" releases, whatever that means for you. I'm especially 
> interested what parts you find work well, and what problems you
> find.
> I'm not particularly interested in the procedure for security updates,
> more for bug fixes/new versions, obviously except for the cases where
> the procedures are the same.
> What are the rules for what is allowed?
> What is the process for doing it?
> What QA is done on the updates?
> How are regressions caught?
> How are regressions handled?

Gentoo has a rolling-release model, so individual packages are 
stabilized, and they are then treated differently. Any functional 
changes to them are heavily frowned upon.

Any new changes are made in a separate revision of the package in 
testing, which then goes through a suggested 30 days of testing before 
being stabilized. That 30 days is at the maintainer's discretion, but 
almost everyone waits at least that long. You'd better have a reason if 
you go faster.

Regressions that only occur in a fully-stable system are generally only 
encountered by the architecture-testing teams immediately before 
stabilizing. After that, they hit all stable users on their next update. 
On the brighter side, many regressions will occur on testing-based 
systems so will be caught before going stable. If a regression is 
considered serious by the package maintainer, he will likely revert that 
revision to testing.

In general, it's a set of guidelines and common-sense approaches, with 
respect given to the maintainer's ability to do the right thing.


Donnie Berkholz
Developer, Gentoo Linux
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