“Schedule slip” is part of the plan
While the term “slip” has some built-in negative connotations, we really don’t mean it to be seen as a bad thing. Although we strive to hit the target date, that’s only part of our release process.
Historically, many open source projects eschewed deadlines completely, instead saying “we’ll release it when it’s ready.” Other projects stick to a very strict release schedule, releasing whatever is done on the planned date no matter what. Fedora follows a middle position, where we aim for target dates (and with a few exceptions, for two releases a year), but we balance those target dates with our release criteria, which require a certain level of functionality and stability.
Fedora integrates thousands of fast-moving open source projects. Im keeping with our core values, we strive to provide the latest in “stable and robust, useful, and powerful free software.” This means that as each release is assembled, a lot of moving parts have to line up in order to get everything just right.
We set an ambitious schedule with the goal of getting as much quality free software in each release as possible. Sometimes, bugs in crucial components — or interactions between components — pop up during testing and we decide that we’d rather not expose our users to those bugs. Even when we’re releasing an alpha or beta, we don’t want to provide users with a release that won’t support meaningful testing and workloads. In some cases, we decide that a particular component or feature just isn’t ready and needs to wait for the next release, and in others, we decide that getting bugfixes in will be better for our users.
In reality, it might be better to say we’re revising the schedule rather than “slipping” it, because the schedule is not the final arbiter of when we release the distribution. The schedule guides development and sets up milestones to help keep teams on task, but it’s the bar of quality and functionality that we set for ourselves that determines when we’re actually ready to unleash a new Fedora release.
Grab the Beta tomorrow
One way to help with all this is to test the pre-releases as quickly as they hit the servers. Be sure to grab one (or more) of the Fedora 21 Beta products (cloud, server, and workstation) tomorrow to test it and report any problems you find.