The volunteer-based Debian GNU/Linux is experimenting with a new project aimed at securing funding to pay key release managers in an effort to ensure the forthcoming Debian 4.0, codenamed etch, is released on time.
Throughout its history Debian has been marred by missed schedules. The last release that was "on-time" was version 1.3, codenamed bo, back in June 1997.
The brainchild of Debian project leader, Brisbane, Australia-based Anthony Towns, Dunc-Tank is an experimental project that seeks to find ways of funding Debian development. That money will then go into paying people to sit down and do "useful" Debian work rather than relying on a core of dedicated volunteers to contribute code outside of their regular day jobs.
"Most developers work on Debian in their spare time, and the developers who do the most work on Debian devote most of their spare time to it. When that spare time disappears, due to work commitments, family commitments, holidays or sickness, so does the work on Debian," Towns said.
To achieve its goal, Dunc-Tank is funding release managers Steve Langasek and Andi Barth to work full time on etch's release over the months of October and November respectively. All things going smoothly, etch will be released on December 4, 2006.
Much is expected between now and release date.
Towns said a new version of X is expected to be included in unstable in the next day or two, which should allow Debian to support some of the compositing techniques that provide similar features to Mac OS X's "Expose".
Work is continuing on SELinux support, which provides users with more fine-grained control over what programs on their system can do, reducing the possibility of security violations.
"We're expecting to be able to announce support of the latest LSB standard, 3.1, in the next few weeks for all the architectures LSB covers, and formally certify that support when etch releases.
"We've added or updated two gigabytes worth of software in the archive every day over the past week, and that will likely continue and possibly increase before the release is done."