Fedora Release Life Cycle
The Fedora Project releases a new version of Fedora about every 6 months and provides updated packages (maintenance) to these releases for about 13 months. This allows users to "skip a release" while still being able to always have a system that is still receiving updates.
We say developed and released about every 6 months because like many things--they don't always go exactly as planned.
The schedule for the release currently under development, Fedora 19 (Schrödinger's Cat), is on its release schedule page. Test and General Availability (final) releases happen at 10:00am Eastern US Time, which is either 1500UTC or 1400UTC depending on if daylight savings effect.
Fedora release schedules are proposed by the Release Engineering team and ratified by Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo). FESCo is responsible for overseeing the technical direction of the Fedora distribution. A core schedule is built around key milestones in a Fedora that Release Engineering is able to support by building the distribution for public release on those dates.
|Planning and Development||Day After GA of Previous Release|| Depends on GA date|
and working backwards
|Feature Acceptance Deadline||Two weeks before Feature Freeze||n/a|
|Feature Freeze||1 week before Alpha Freeze||Until GA|
|Alpha Freeze||One week after Feature Freeze||2 weeks|
|String Freeze||Same time as Alpha Freeze||Until GA|
|Alpha Public Public Testing||After Alpha Freeze||3 Weeks|
|Beta Freeze||After Alpha Public Testing||Until GA|
|Beta Public Public Testing||After Beta Freeze||3 Weeks|
|Compose GA RC||Two Days after end of Beta Public Testing||1 Day|
|Test GA RC||After Compose GA RC||1 week|
|GA Release||Six days after Test GA RC ends||n/a|
|End of Life||One month after GA of current release + 2 releases||~13 Months|
Development Schedule Rationale
Fedora generally develops new releases over a six month period to provide a regular and predictable release schedule. The bi-annual targeted release dates are May Day (May 1st) and Halloween (October 31) making them easy to remember and avoiding significant holiday breaks. Changes to this standard must be approved by the community-elected Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo).
A six month release schedule also follows the precedence of Red Hat Linux (precursor to Fedora). Former Red Hat software engineer Havoc Pennington offers a historical perspective here. GNOME started following a time based release based on the ideas and success of Red Hat Linux and others distribution following Fedora having adopted a similar release cycle too. Several other major components including the Linux kernel, Openoffice.org, Xorg have started following a time based release schedule too. While the exact release schedules vary between these components and other upstream projects, the interactions between these components and Fedora makes a six month time based release schedule a good balance.
Schedule Contingency Planning
If it becomes readily evident, based on the input from representatives of FESCo, Release Engineering, and Quality Assurance that any of the following milestones will not be met, one week will be added to all remaining scheduled milestones and dependent tasks--including the final release date:
- Public Alpha Release
- Public Beta Release
- Public Final Release
One week is the added to the schedule to maintain the practice of releasing on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are the designated release day because they are good days for news coverage and the established day we synchronize our content with the mirrors that carry our releases.
We say maintained for about 13 months because the supported period for released releases is dependent on the date the release under development goes final. As a result, Release X is supported until one month after the release of Release X+2.
This translates into:
- Fedora 17 will be maintained until 1 month after the release of Fedora 19.
- Fedora 18 will be maintained until 1 month after the release of Fedora 20.
Maintenance Schedule Methodology
FIXME -- add schedule of how maintenance date is set/announced
Maintenance Schedule Rationale
Fedora is focused on free and open source software innovations and moves quickly. If you want a distribution that moves slower but has a longer lifecycle, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is derivative of Fedora or free rebuilds of that such as CentOS might be more suitable for you. Refer to the RHEL page for more details.
Historically, the Fedora Project has found supporting two releases plus a release under development to be a manageable work load.