Earlier this week, at DebConf 9, the Debian team proposed a new approach for the Debian’s release cycle, which was later on announced publicly on the Debian site:
“The Debian project has decided to adopt a new policy of time-based development freezes for future releases, on a two-year cycle. Freezes will from now on happen in the December of every odd year, which means that releases will from now on happen sometime in the first half of every even year. To that effect the next freeze will happen in December 2009, with a release expected in spring 2010. The project chose December as a suitable freeze date since spring releases proved successful for the releases of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (codenamed “Etch”) and Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (“Lenny”).”
This doesn’t mean that we will have a time-based release as for example Ubuntu does on a specific date, but it means that we will have a time-based freeze for each new release (in December of every odd year); the release will still become stable “when it is ready”, but after this, we can expect the new releases in general sometimes in the spring of the every even year.
“Time-based freezes will allow the Debian Project to blend the predictability of time based releases with its well established policy of feature based releases. The new freeze policy will provide better predictability of releases for users of the Debian distribution, and also allow Debian developers to do better long-term planning. A two-year release cycle will give more time for disruptive changes, reducing inconveniences caused for users. Having predictable freezes should also reduce overall freeze time.”
This new approach will leave a very short time for the next release Debian 6.0 (“Squeeze”), that will be freezed later on this year (lenny was released earlier this year in February). Here are the major release goals for squeeze: multi-arch support, which will improve the installation of 32 bit packages on 64 bit machines, and an optimised boot process for better boot performance and reliability.