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This document is outdated and does not accurately describe the current release procedures of the FreeBSD Release Engineering team. It is retained for historical purposes. The current procedures used by the FreeBSD Release Engineering team are available in the <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/freebsd-releng/article.html">FreeBSD Release Engineering</link> article.
This paper describes the approach used by the FreeBSD release engineering team to make production quality releases of the FreeBSD Operating System. It details the methodology used for the official FreeBSD releases and describes the tools available for those interested in producing customized FreeBSD releases for corporate rollouts or commercial productization.
Introduction
Subversion, <uri xlink:href="http://subversion.apache.org">http://subversion.apache.org</uri>
<link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/contributors/article.html#staff-committers">FreeBSD committers</link>
<link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/administration.html#t-core">FreeBSD Core Team</link>
The development of FreeBSD is a very open process. FreeBSD is comprised of contributions from thousands of people around the world. The FreeBSD Project provides Subversion <_:footnote-1/> access to the general public so that others can have access to log messages, diffs (patches) between development branches, and other productivity enhancements that formal source code management provides. This has been a huge help in attracting more talented developers to FreeBSD. However, I think everyone would agree that chaos would soon manifest if write access to the main repository was opened up to everyone on the Internet. Therefore only a <quote>select</quote> group of nearly 300 people are given write access to the Subversion repository. These <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/contributors/article.html#staff-committers">committers</link> <_:footnote-2/> are usually the people who do the bulk of FreeBSD development. An elected <link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/administration.html#t-core">Core Team</link> <_:footnote-3/> of developers provide some level of direction over the project.
The rapid pace of <systemitem>FreeBSD</systemitem> development makes the main development branch unsuitable for the everyday use by the general public. In particular, stabilizing efforts are required for polishing the development system into a production quality release. To solve this conflict, development continues on several parallel tracks. The main development branch is the <emphasis>HEAD</emphasis> or <emphasis>trunk</emphasis> of our Subversion tree, known as <quote>FreeBSD-CURRENT</quote> or <quote>-CURRENT</quote> for short.
A set of more stable branches are maintained, known as <quote>FreeBSD-STABLE</quote> or <quote>-STABLE</quote> for short. All branches live in a master Subversion repository maintained by the FreeBSD Project. FreeBSD-CURRENT is the <quote>bleeding-edge</quote> of FreeBSD development where all new changes first enter the system. FreeBSD-STABLE is the development branch from which major releases are made. Changes go into this branch at a different pace, and with the general assumption that they have first gone into FreeBSD-CURRENT and have been thoroughly tested by our user community.
The term <emphasis>stable</emphasis> in the name of the branch refers to the presumed Application Binary Interface stability, which is promised by the project. This means that a user application compiled on an older version of the system from the same branch works on a newer system from the same branch. The ABI stability has improved greatly from the compared to previous releases. In most cases, binaries from the older <emphasis>STABLE</emphasis> systems run unmodified on newer systems, including <emphasis>HEAD</emphasis>, assuming that the system management interfaces are not used.
buildworld
<link xlink:href="@@URL_RELPREFIX@@/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/makeworld.html">Rebuilding "world"</link>
In the interim period between releases, weekly snapshots are built automatically by the FreeBSD Project build machines and made available for download from <systemitem>ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/snapshots/</systemitem>. The widespread availability of binary release snapshots, and the tendency of our user community to keep up with -STABLE development with Subversion and <quote><command>make</command> <_:buildtarget-1/></quote> <_:footnote-2/> helps to keep FreeBSD-STABLE in a very reliable condition even before the quality assurance activities ramp up pending a major release.
In addition to installation ISO snapshots, weekly virtual machine images are also provided for use with <application>VirtualBox</application>, <application>qemu</application>, or other popular emulation software. The virtual machine images can be downloaded from <systemitem>ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/snapshots/VM-IMAGES/</systemitem>.
The virtual machine images are approximately 150MB <citerefentry><refentrytitle>xz</refentrytitle><manvolnum>1</manvolnum></citerefentry> compressed, and contain a 10GB sparse filesystem when attached to a virtual machine.
Bug reports and feature requests are continuously submitted by users throughout the release cycle. Problems reports are entered into our <application>Bugzilla</application> database through the web interface provided at <uri xlink:href="https://www.freebsd.org/support/bugreports.html">https://www.freebsd.org/support/bugreports.html</uri>.
To service our most conservative users, individual release branches were introduced with FreeBSD 4.3. These release branches are created shortly before a final release is made. After the release goes out, only the most critical security fixes and additions are merged onto the release branch. In addition to source updates via Subversion, binary patchkits are available to keep systems on the <emphasis>releng/<replaceable>X</replaceable>.<replaceable>Y</replaceable></emphasis> branches updated.
What This Article Describes
The following sections of this article describe:
The different phases of the release engineering process leading up to the actual system build.
The actual build process.
How the base release may be extended by third parties.
Some of the lessons learned through the release of FreeBSD 4.4.
Future directions of development.
Release Process
New releases of FreeBSD are released from the -STABLE branch at approximately four month intervals. The FreeBSD release process begins to ramp up 70-80 days before the anticipated release date when the release engineer sends an email to the development mailing lists to remind developers that they only have 15 days to integrate new changes before the code freeze. During this time, many developers perform what have become known as <quote>MFC sweeps</quote>.
<acronym>MFC</acronym> stands for <quote>Merge From CURRENT</quote> and it describes the process of merging a tested change from our -CURRENT development branch to our -STABLE branch. Project policy requires any change to be first applied to trunk, and merged to the -STABLE branches after sufficient external testing was done by -CURRENT users (developers are expected to extensively test the change before committing to -CURRENT, but it is impossible for a person to exercise all usages of the general-purpose operating system). Minimal MFC period is 3 days, which is typically used only for trivial or critical bugfixes.
Code Review
Sixty days before the anticipated release, the source repository enters a <quote>code freeze</quote>. During this time, all commits to the -STABLE branch must be approved by Release Engineering Team <email>re@FreeBSD.org</email>. The approval process is technically enforced by a pre-commit hook. The kinds of changes that are allowed during this period include:
Bug fixes.
Documentation updates.

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(itstool) path: sect1/para
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a year ago
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articles/releng.pot, string 27