Inside the 10.04 LTS release war room
This week, I had the opportunity to witness Ubuntu history in action. I represented Ubuntu Server edition to the Ubuntu release sprint that Canonical held in London. Most Ubuntu platform team managers were present, together with Steve Langasek and Colin Watson from the Ubuntu Release team. This was a tense week, in a friendly and fun atmosphere.
Sitting on the comfortable Eurostar train back home, now that the dust from release blast settled and that the release party is over, I can take the time to write about how it went. The release procedure is smooth, but that doesn’t prevent tension from building up as you wait in anxiety for some last-minute disaster to happen. It all started slowly, with the last candidates being generated on Tuesday, and most ISO testing completed by the end of the day.
The art of release management is to consider issues when they come up, evaluate the risk of regression vs. the impact of the bug, and finally decide if it’s worth respinning (and redoing the ISO testing all over again) or release with the bug, add a paragraph in the release notes, and prepare an early SRU to fix the issue. It takes a unique combination of skills: horizontal knowledge of the distribution, technical proficiency to assess bugs, evaluate patches or quickly write fixes, and the ability to stay cool under pressure and sleep deprivation. Steve and Colin have those skills, and it was amazing to watch their combination in action during this week.
The highlight of the week was evidently Thursday morning, when we decided that bug 570765 was worth a D-day respin of most of the Ubuntu desktop deliverables, while at the same time thousands of people were gathering in #ubuntu-release-party, screaming “is it out yet”. IS was rushing to mobilize the hardware necessary to optimize the rebuild times. The Ubuntu testing community managed to pull off the feat of running all ISO tests as fast as the deliverables were being generated, making the ISO testing website collapse under load. It was also interesting to see managers around the table scrambling to run ISO tests, really “leading by example”.
Then at 1754 UTC, Steve finally announced that the cat was out. We could pop open the bottles of champagne, while watching the network load graphs rising to peak all lines. A few adjustments later (including switching www.ubuntu.com to the new version), we were all ready to celebrate and join the London Ubuntu release party.
Congrats everyone, and happy 10.04 LTS.