[ros-users] [Discourse.ros.org] [General] Proposed changes to the ROS releases

Geoffrey Biggs ros.discourse at gmail.com
Wed May 9 14:32:19 UTC 2018

Overall I think the new plan sounds great.

I do think, though, that the full potential of the rolling release isnt being realised. It should be seen by package maintainers as a place to shake down their packages before they go into an LTS release. While at the start of a cycle this would probably involve lots of new features being introduced and APIs broken, over time the package would stabilise and bugs would be wrung out (while still providing room for new features if desired). The reason I think this is a benefit is that it gives users of the LTS release more confidence that the software has been well used before release rather than just being the head of the repository dropped in before the release goes out. If the  wringing out happens before release then a company has to do less wringing out of their own before using the release in a product.

To do this, I think that the rolling release plan needs two changes:

1. Clearly defined guidelines for the purpose of the rolling release (providing new features while aiming to stabilise the package for the next LTS),  for feature freezes (e.g. from six months prior to the planned LTS release, only patch version bumps are allowed for packages), and for allowing a new package or package version into the rolling release (it must compile and its dependencies must be available, for a start).

2. Regularly automatically built binaries available from a repository. Otherwise no one will use it and it wont get the testing it needs.

For ROS it would also require more trust in package maintainers to obey the rules, since ROS is more distributed than something like Debian.

The ability to have the above *and* the latest and greatest and breakiest (while still being in a release and so finding incompatibilities) is why Debian has two rolling releases, one that is intended to become the next stable and one that will probably step on your cat. I think if ROS were to add an unstable release, it wouldnt need binaries built automatically.

Im aware that many people dont consider this approach compatible with ROS, but I think it is and that its worth pursuing, even with the extra infrastructure development it would require.


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