CyanogenMod ditches 'stable release' for perpetual M

CyanogenMod ditches 'stable release' for perpetual M

Summary: As the CyanogenMod team aims for fortnightly releases, it's killed off "stable" from its vocabulary.

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With the recent release of CyanogenMod (Android 4.4) M6, the team behind the popular custom ROM is getting rid of "stable release" builds, which took too long to patch and gave the wrong impression to its most risk-averse users.

CyanogenMod users who were wondering why, six months after KitKat's release, there was no "stable" release for the ROM need ponder the question no more. CyanogenMod developers have ditched the terms "stable" and "release candidate" (RC) from its release streams.

"Don't expect a build labelled 'stable'. The 'M' builds have supplanted our need for such a release. This also means you will not being seeing 'RC' builds," the CyanogenMod team said.

M builds fall under the "snapshot" stream, which are updated monthly and are more stable than "nightlies" but not as preened as "stable". The latter attracts the most risk-averse CM users while the brave-hearted can choose the more experimental nightlies.

According to the developers, there are a few good reasons for removing stable from its release terminology, including that the word gave the false impression that they were bug-free but also because they took too long to patch.

"With a 'stable' and 'nightly' only structure, you either waited months for a fix, or updated to a nightly — and with the risk of items such as the 'master key' and 'Heartbleed' vulnerabilities, this became an unacceptable risk we were posing to you all," the team said.

The change means that M build users can safely assume they will get a predictable monthly update, which are scheduled for the first Friday or Saturday of every month.

The team has previously clarified that its M builds are not just "specially named nightlies". Since KitKat, CM 11 M releases are on a code path that lags behind nightlies, which make it a bad idea to hop between the two streams.

The ultimate goal with the change is to move faster and the CyanogenMod team believes it can whittle down its monthly cycle to a fortnightly release, which underscores why "stable" is an inappropriate term.

"With the current M cycle, we have gotten our routine down to every four weeks; to get it to two weeks is ambitious, but we can do it, and it would benefit everyone. At a two-week cycle, you are not subjected to the rollercoaster that is nightlies. At a two-week cycle we can collect and act on JIRA reports with more immediacy. At a two-week cycle new devices or those that miss a release due to being withheld can enter the release cycle again at the next build (assuming issues are resolved). And of course, with this being CM, you can choose to take or ignore an update as you'd like," the team said.

Read more on CyanogenMod

Topics: Mobility, Android, Mobile OS, Smartphones

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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