Debian tipped for February release

Linux community says fourth version of Debian is most likely to be released in February, but many are hesitant to commit to a timescale

The long-awaited next version of the Debian open-source operating system is most likely to be released in February, according to members of the Debian community.

In a Debian Administration web poll, nearly half of those predicting a release date for the Linux distribution said it would happen during February. Twenty-eight percent of its community said the next release, which is the fourth version and code-named Etch, would occur in March, while 15 percent said it would be April or later. The remaining 14 percent believe release will take place in January, although some may have changed their minds since the poll was launched on 5 January.

But a sizable chunk of those voting refused to suggest a date of release, saying there shouldn't be pressure to release Etch until it is ready.

Debianex is one Debian user who believes in caution over the release date. Posting a message on the Debian Administration site, Debianex wrote: "I would like to see a release when everything is working properly. Trying to keep to a fixed date is a common reason for a faulty release."

Another user, SJD, wrote: "Debian is the distro that a lot of business [uses] and [its] development is dependent on the stability factor. If someone wants bleeding edge, release-often systems, then perhaps they should look elsewhere."

But others urged Debian's Release Managers to finalise the software soon. "I use it on a daily basis and it works fine," wrote Monzo. "Only the release-critical bugs have to be squashed. I voted February because I believe in a little pressure to perform."

One of the major new features of Etch will be official support for the 64-bit x86 architecture, which is becoming increasingly used in servers. In addition, most of the software bundled with the operating system will be updated to reflect ongoing development within the wider open-source software community.

Debian is one of the most widely used Linux distributions. It also forms the basis for other popular distributions, such as Ubuntu.

Debian was originally due for release in December. But it has suffered continuing delays, partly because of a slowdown by key developers. Many developers are upset that Debian's two release managers are being paid to work full-time to finalise Etch.

Debian has a long history of being late, ever since its first version in 1997.

ZDNet Australia's Renai LeMay contributed to this report.

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