FreeBSD 5.4 release status

Robert Watson rwatson at
Tue May 3 09:40:41 PDT 2005

On Mon, 2 May 2005, Jonathan Noack wrote:

>> Hi I am abit confused here, have seen a post from someone using
>> 5.4-STABLE how is that possible if 5.4 isnt RELEASE yet, and good news
>> on the bug fix.
> When RELENG_5_4 was branched, RELENG_5 went from 5.4-PRERELEASE to 
> 5.4-STABLE to reflect that it is once again open for less-restricted 
> development.  As 5.4 will be released via the RELENG_5_4 branch, it is 
> normal and expected to have 5.4-STABLE around before 5.4-RELEASE.

Casey Schaufler (ex-SGI, previously ex-Sun) gave a great talk at a 
workshop I was at recently relating to closed and open source release 
processes.  One thing he pointed out that I found quite insightful is that 
what a development organization does is release source code and a build 
environment. Specifically, they release it to the release engineers, who 
then release a product, and may iterate some on the source product before 
turning it into the product.  We represent that in the FreeBSD world 
through a notion of release engineering branches: when the developer team 
is ready to generate a source product, we generate a branch.  It's done 
with the help of the release engineering team, but at some point the 
correlation between the source development branch and the releasee 
engineering branch becomes lower and they are essentially independent.

Casey was careful to point out that what a release engineering team 
releases may be quite different from the development organization's 
product -- it may have custom patches, custom build changes, documentation 
(release notes), logos, and who knows what else.

While there's overlap in these processes, and there's no cut and dry 
hand-off as a result of some iteration on the release process, I think 
this is a useful world view, and it explains why branches become -STABLE, 
etc.  The development organization, once its cut its source release to the 
release engineering team, goes back to doing what it does: building 
software for its next release.  We used to make the handoff synchronous, 
and we found that caused a lot of heartache.  The loosely synchronous 
model we have now (where people are a bit restrained) appears to work 

Robert N M Watson

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