Debian etch: how to scratch the itch

Why we have not yet released and what you can do about it

Martin F. Krafft <>

Skycon, University of Limerick, Ireland 18 Feb 2007



Debian: the hard facts

Who's behind it?



Debian releases

sarge.png etch.png

Debian stable

"Look, this is Debian. They don't release things until you have to fire rockets at the thing to stop it from working." (Slashdot quote)

… and outdated:

"Debian releases are out of date the minute they are published" (common prejudice)

Release process

Package cycle


Freeze process

RC bugs

Current status



(Not entirely accurate because does not respect version tracking)


So why haven't we released yet?

Reason #17: because Martin is off writing talks about why etch hasn't been released, instead of fixing RC bugs. ;)

—Steve Langasek,
release manager

No really, why haven't we released yet?

Because we aren't ready yet.
(I know you didn't want to hear that)

Poll: should Debian:

Release blockers: the technical reasons

Good news: kernel frozen as of 9 Feb 2007.

Management reasons

Social reasons



The Dunc-Bank is an experiment to see how aggressive bug reporting can delay the release of Debian Etch. […] We think that overall quality is more important than keeping release promises others did for us.

Assessing the effects

Steve's midterm report:


What you can do

Let's fix a bug

I tried …

Original plan: fix #410946 during talk

No consensus in four days of discussion, thus cannot upload

If I were you, I wouldn't make such an unnecessary change in an NMU. Oh, no, if I were you, I wouldn't consider an NMU here at all.

Frankly, I'm somewhat pissed that I've spent a couple of minutes on writing this message, instead of working on the bug itself.

I gave up.


New in etch

For the complete list:

Hot air?

So when will you release "etch"???

Just remember the Irish way


We'll release when it's ready. (I don't think this will ever change.)

(Logo by Neil McGovern)

Come to debconf7!

More info:

My Ph.D. research

Method diffusion in large open source projects

Thank you

I received valuable input for this talk from: Steve Langasek, Sam Hocevar, Frans Pop, Brian May, Anthony Towns, Theodore Ts'o, Thomas Viehmann, and the other folks of #debian-devel. Thank you all!


These slides, their design, and the content are © Martin F. Krafft and released under the terms of the CC by-nc-sa 2.5 licence.

reStructuredText sources: slides.rst and ui/debian/*.

Slides based on the S5 presentation system.