Developers of the popular Debian Linux distribution are ramping up coding efforts as they plan to release the next version of their operating system in December this year.
The schedule was today outlined in an e-mail to the Debian
community from developer Andreas Barth, a member of the team
which coordinates the process by which Debian is formally handed
over to the public.
"We expect to release Etch as planned in the beginning of
December 2006," Barth wrote. In keeping with the Debian tradition of naming each version of its Linux distribution after a character from the film Toy Story, "Etch" is the code name for the December release.
The date represents a dramatic improvement in the regularity
of Debian's development cycle. Etch will be shipped only 18 months after the previous release, version 3.1.
Prior to that June 2005 release, Debian had not officially
shipped a stable version of its operating system since July 2002,
three years previously. That gap had generated intense debate
between the project's developers, some of whom wanted the
software updated more frequently.
An Australian developer, Anthony Towns, was recently elected
by the Debian community to lead the project. In his platform for election, Towns said the most important issue for Debian was "increasing its tempo".
"We've been slow in a lot of things, from releasing, to getting updates in, to processing applications from prospective developers, to fixing bugs, to making decisons on policy questions, and all sorts of other things."
However Barth warned the community the process would not be
"We need to switch gears in order to make it happen," he said.
"So please stop making disruptive uploads, and work on getting
things smoother now."
Barth said there were still more than 400 bugs that needed to
be fixed before Etch could be considered ready to go. "So, we ask
you all to work on reducing the bug number again," he said.
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 like Ubuntu.