Goodbye etch, hello lenny

Even with Debian 4.0 released, there’s no rest for the Debian community

The long-anticipated Debian 4.0 may only just have made its debut this week, but it's never too soon for the developer community to be making plans for its successor.

Codenamed 'etch', Debian 4.0 was officially released on 8 April, 2007. Although the release comes four months later than its early December 2006 target, developers are calling the project a success.

According to Debian Project Leader Anthony Towns, etch surpassed two milestones. Firstly, the software's 21-month release cycle turned out to be about a year shorter than that of its predecessor, sarge (Debian 3.1), and a month shorter than that of Debian 3.0, codenamed woody.

Additionally, Towns said, there has been somewhat of a tradition of only releasing one new version of Debian for every second Debian Project Leader. With sarge having been released under the leadership of Towns' immediate predecessor, Branden Robinson, the timely release of etch was a near-unexpected achievement.

"In spite of all the reasons I had to think that getting etch out on time was possible, I've always had this superstition that it wouldn't happen until we'd elected a new DPL [Debian Project Leader]," he said. "I'm still technically DPL until the 17th, so I'm counting that as a win."

Post-release parties have been planned in several locations worldwide, including Argentina, Canada, France, U.S. and U.K. An Australian party will be held on Saturday in Melbourne - but celebrations are likely to be short-lived as developers embark on the next Debian release, codenamed 'lenny'.

"There are a bunch of release parties planned around the place," Towns said. "Of course, the other way people address it is by moving right on to working on the next release, lenny."

As is usual with new Debian releases, lenny will be built on an exact replica of its predecessor, etch. Already, updates have been made to just under 2000 packages, which constitutes about 10 percent of the distribution. However, with the next release estimated to be more than a year away, Towns speculates that lenny's most interesting features are likely to not have even been thought of yet.

"I do know the stable update team are aiming to provide better ongoing support for sarge than we've attempted in the past, to make it easier for people to avoid the disruption of upgrades if it's not necessary," he said. "And I know that the upstream developers of all the software included in Debian haven't stopped building great new stuff just because Debian's been distracted with a release."

Queensland-based Towns steps down from the role of Debian Project Leader next week. He will be succeeded by French developer Sam Hocevar.

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