Reposting this post as it was quite long and I think still relevant given the recent discussion on turning ubuntu’s 6 month release into a monthly release model.

What do I expect?

A working system with minimal regressions, to quote linus himself:

I thought KDE 4.0 was such a disaster I switched to GNOME. I hate the fact that my right button doesn't do what I want it to do. But the whole "break everything" model is painful for users and they can choose to use something else. I realise the reason for the 4.0 release, but I think they did it badly. They did so may changes it was a half-baked release. It may turn out to be the right decision in the end and I will re-try KDE, but I suspect I'm not the only person they lost.

That’s from 2009, why am I repeating it 3 years later? With not 1 but 2 MAJOR desktop environments? Did they really learn nothing from KDE 4.0 at all? -_-

Quote from as2000: Folks need to remember when KDE switched over to 4, there were major issues.

Just because KDE 4.0 had major issues on release, and now Gnome 3 has major issues, doesn’t mean it’s cool for Ubuntu to follow with a derp of its own.

All 3 major Desktop environments have failed in one major way, they made huge changes in a relatively short time, which really appears to this noob (me not you) to be a basic misunderstanding of the linux development process in general.

“Release early, release often”

ie, make smaller incremental changes over time, release those changes frequently and address any issues that appear. As opposed to the Unity development cycle which I saw went like this:

Alpha 1: no real changes, everything works fine Alpha 2: 2nd buggiest Ubuntu alpha I have tested in 4 years. Alpha 3: buggiest ubuntu alpha I have ever tested.

Beta 1: still buggy and usability nightmare

Beta 2: still buggy and usability nightmare confirmed with usability report released

Release: Buggiest ubuntu release yet, I hope this doesn’t happen but sitting 5 days out with a common ati graphics card with buggy drivers, virtualbox still isn’t working right, and tons of bugs still being reported every day I’m not holding my breath.

What should have happened?

The 6 month release cycle is NOT flawed, it works great, the flaw was a basic misunderstanding of WHY there’s a 6 month release cycle in the first place, and thus it was poorly implemented.

The whole point of the 6 month release according to Canonical:

We feel that a time-based release process enables us to provide our users with the best balance of the latest software, tight integration, and excellent overall quality.

Which is a web 2.0 way of saying “release early, release often works, and we’re going to use it”.

How does release early, release often work in the kernel world:

January 24 2.6.24 stable release February 10 2.6.25-rc1, merge window closes

2 weeks of new stuff

April 16 2.6.25 stable release

2 months of testing and bug fixing.

With this as a basis, how should natty and the Unity release have gone.


  • Alpha 1: as per normal, toolchain updates etc
  • Alpha 2: Gnome 2.32 as base

Users notified that this will be the last release using the Gnome 2.3x code base, as 11.10 will be using Unity 2d and 3d.

Beginnings of BFB and Dash implemented, new application indicators uploaded. Gnome 3 released: great job gnome!

  • Alpha 3: Testing, testing, testing.
  • Beta 1: Still Testing, loads of feedback on the dash given, updates and changes are made to improve usability significantly.
  • RC: Bugs are squashed, usability is improved even more.

  • Release: Happy bug free experience and wow new features! nice!

All the while, sitting far off in a universe some place else is the Gnome shell code base, and the full Unity 2d + 3d experience.


  • Alpha 1: as per normal, toolchain updates etc
  • Alpha 2: Gnome Shells code base to be used, Unity 2d and 3d which had been in co-development for the last 6 months debuts, the already heavily tested and improved App indicators, BFB and Dash are included in Unity 2d and 3d.

In addition the launcher and global menu debuts for the complete Unity experience.

  • Alpha 3: testing and feedback.
  • Beta 1: testing and feedback.
  • RC: more testing. (and feedback)
  • Release: Happy bug free experience and wow new features! nice!

12.04: A huge focus on bugs and usability fixes inc!

  • No regressions between 10.04 and 12.04 the aim. (Would be nice to see a “We want you! to join the Ubuntu Bug Traigers! style campaign started.
  • Capitalise on a years worth of usability increases over Dash and BFB, and on the concerns of the launcher and global menu from the last 6 months.
  • Unity 2d and 3d with a years worth of dev time should be relatively mature, any “flys in your ice cream” ;) further ironed out.

12.10: hello wayland!

The end result:

  • The move to Gnome Shell happens over a year instead of 6 months, which means more time to test and fix bugs.
  • Because the changes are smaller no one is overwhelmed, not the end users or the devs.
  • Constant evolving feedback about the usability, trust me Canonical, we’re here to help, we want Ubuntu to be uber usable as well, more usable than OS X and windows combined, but we still want to be here to test your alpha releases.
  • Frequent releases means bugs frequently get squashed.
  • 11.04, 11.10 and 12.04 are all fantastic releases and Ubuntu continues to grow in popularity.

that’s my 2c

  • ikt