XDM and X

Nik Clayton nik at freebsd.org
Sat Aug 4 14:42:44 BST 2001

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On Sat, Aug 04, 2001 at 01:31:22PM +0100, Neil Ford wrote:
> But one of the great thing about FreeBSD was you could track stable and
> stuff shouldn't break, this was seen as a plus point. The news that stable
> is gerb0rken is depressing.

The keyword here is "shouldn't".  Given FreeBSD's development model it's
just not possible to perfectly guarantee -stable's stableness.

New code appears in -current first.  We actively tell non-developer's to
stay away from -current.  So any code that appears in -current will be
seen by a limited audience.  Since very few people run -current in
anything approaching a production environment, the code won't get tested
in a production environment either.

After bedding down in -current for a while, during which time the code
may not be exercised by very many people, if at all, it is merged in to

At this point many more people see it, some of whom are running
production systems.  This much wider testing almost guarantees that some
bugs will fall out of the code.

Finally, the code appears in a release, at which point even more people
start using it.  More testing and more corner cases further increase the
chance that lurking bugs will be found.

This hasn't suddenly changed in FreeBSD -- the -current/-stable branches
have worked like this since at least the 2.x days.  It's always been the
case that if you're using FreeBSD in a production environment you should
deploy any new version on to test machines first, and make sure that
it works in your environment.

What has changed (IMHO) is that the project has become more open about
this, and more ready to admit up front that -stable will occasionally be
unstable.  But that instability is not tolerated any more now than it
was five or six years ago -- if a committer breaks -current now they
usually have a grace period of 48-72 hours to fix it before the demands
to have the code backed out come rolling in.  Breaking -stable is still
very much a "Back out the code now, try and fix it later" affair.

FreeBSD: The Power to Serve             http://www.freebsd.org/
FreeBSD Documentation Project           http://www.freebsd.org/docproj/

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