Ubuntu CEO: two-year releases are only "an idea"

Plans to scrap Ubuntu's six-monthly releases are merely "early stage discussions", says CEO

Barry Collins
24 Jan 2013

Canonical CEO Jane Silber has told PC Pro that proposals to release a new version of Ubuntu only once every two years are merely "very, very early stage discussions".

Ubuntu has been on a six-monthly release cycle since 2004, with Long Term Support (LTS) versions of the OS being released every two years. However, Canonical developers earlier this week discussed the possibility of scrapping those interim releases, with new features being introduced in rolling updates as and when they're ready.

In an exclusive interview with PC Pro, Silber said the plans are far from concrete. "This is very, very early stage discussion. Because we do things so openly, sometimes our early stage ideas get attention in the press well before they're anywhere near a decision," she said.

The honest answer is I don't know if it's likely, because it's an idea at this point, and I think the idea merits discussion

"The honest answer is I don't know if it's likely, because it's an idea at this point, and I think the idea merits discussion."

Silber denied the proposed move was to ease the strain on Ubuntu's developers, who are now working on versions of Ubuntu for smartphones, televisions and tablets as well as the PC. "It's not so much a resource-management issue as an efficiency issue," she said.

"When we started Canonical and Ubuntu in 2004 and we said we're going to release Ubuntu every six months, the reaction was 'you guys are crazy, nobody can put out a full operating system every six months, that's just madness'."

"Remember, at the time Debian was coming out unpredictably every three to five years, Windows was coming out with many years in between - it [a six-month schedule] was unheard of. We believe we've professionalised that release process - that process of integration and getting open source communities to work together to a six-monthly release cycle.

"Now everybody does it. Fedora does it every six months, SUSE does it every six months, we showed how it could be done. Now six months seems a really long time."

Allowing developers to release new features when they're ready, rather than waiting for the traditional April and October releases, would give them greater flexibility and get those features to consumers sooner, said Silber.

"A lot of our customers who upgrade every six months would be pretty well served by a rolling release, because what they want is the latest and greatest all the time. Every time we do one of those releases, we stop doing other development work."

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