Finding a release manager and my new “Wine1.2″ package

It’s not a good situation when the most common advice to users experiencing problems is “upgrade to the unstable betas”, but that’s the reality of Wine these days.  It’s also a sure sign of a release getting stagnant – when developers are actively telling people not to use it.

That’s why I’ve made the latest Wine beta releases available for Ubuntu Karmic.  All you have to do is install the Wine1.2 package.  No, Wine 1.2 isn’t actually out yet (the package currently has v1.1.25).  But, when Wine 1.2 is out, I can easily replace the beta version with an update, complete with official-sounding release notes and documentation that no one will ever read.

This approach is very similar to what we did during the Ubuntu 8.04 cycle.  Firefox 3 wouldn’t be out in time, but if we shipped Firefox 2 then our users would be stuck with a crusty web browser.  That’s a mean thing to do to users, so instead we gave them a relatively stable beta version of Firefox 3 and then issued an update after release.  I did the same thing with Wine – Wine 1.0 wasn’t out yet, so I shipped a pretty good beta and then patched it to 1.0.

If only there were more frequent releases

Now, I’ve been advocating Wine 1.2 come out in time for the next Ubuntu release for over a year now, but the truth is that’s going to be about as effective as my campaign to get old people to wear their diapers on the outside.  Stable releases don’t just happen on their own; they need good release management, and Wine doesn’t even have a release manager at this point.  In short, there’s a very good chance Wine 1.2 won’t be out in time, and at this point the 1.0 branch is as crusted as Firefox 2 was.

In search of a release manager

Wine 1.0 took 15 years to come out (incidentally, this is about as long as it took for Duke Nukem to get cancelled).  We seemed to be doing a lot of development, but never actually progressed towards a stable release.  This all changed during Wineconf, when a confluence of angels inspired the Wine developers to select Dan Kegel as the 1.0 release manager.  He did the job wonderfully, and Wine 1.0 actually released, to everyone‘s surprise.  Even Linux Hater felt the need to comment.

Our mistake, however, was stopping there.  Dan Kegel doesn’t have much time for Wine anymore, and last wineconf we didn’t pick a new release manager for 1.2.  So the situation looks much like it did during those 15 years before Wine 1.0′s release: a bunch of developers doing their own thing while everyone else assumes that means picking our noses.

Wine still improves, of course, but without a stable release process users either run into frustrating beta regressions or try to use the old stable version only to discover that it doesn’t work half the time. This sounds awful, but it is a good problem to have – it means we’re a mature project with actual users who really want something they can depend on.

Volunteering for the job

So, I’ll be up front about this.  Wine needs a new release manager, and if I can’t find a better person to do it I’m willing to tackle the job myself.  Maybe that means personally setting up another server farm to run daily regression tests.  Maybe it means going Indiana Jones on the darker parts of bugzilla only to discover that what I thought were useful patches were actually piles of scorpion-powered snakes.

I’ve already contacted Dan Kegel to ask for some pointers, and at his suggestion I’m going to take a much more active role in Wine bug triage.  The release criterion wiki pages also need updating, and there’s likely going to be a lot of wrangling over the particulars of just what we as a project want Wine 1.2 to be.  But that’s exactly the kind of discussion this community need to have – otherwise, a release simply won’t happen.

12 Comments

Vadim PeretokinJuly 15th, 2009 at 4:16 am

Good luck!

Liam DaweJuly 15th, 2009 at 4:40 am

Good luck with that, i believe you are the same person who is responsible for the Spring packages too, so keep up all your great work!

TGMJuly 15th, 2009 at 5:49 am

Good luck! It’ll be great to see Wine 1.2 rock!

Steve DodierJuly 15th, 2009 at 6:23 am

Good luck Scott! I know you rock so i’m not much worried, but I hope you can find the energy and motivation to be a release manager. You might want to ask advice to Stephan Arts (starts) and Jannis Pohlmann (jpohlmann) who just rewrote the release process of XFCE. Maybe they can give you hints on the job too.

AstronJuly 15th, 2009 at 9:54 am

“…about as effective as my campaign to get old people to wear their diapers on the outside.”
Why did you have to campaign for that? Because as someone currently working with old people, I must say, at least some apparently listened to you.

metaJuly 19th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

“This all changed during Wineconf, when a confluence of angels inspired the Wine developers to select Dan Kegel as the 1.0 release manager. He did the job wonderfully, and Wine 1.0 actually released, to everyone’s surprise.”

Well, Kegel exercises are known to help with difficult births…

AnonymousJuly 21st, 2009 at 10:37 am

Thanks! Please continue your very important work!

PodexJuly 29th, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I really have a lot of respect for people like you, who keep the open source world going into the right direction… forward!

DaVinceAugust 24th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Release management means that a few specific applications will be selected yet again to have working reliably, right? That’ll be great.

If so, be sure to pick an old 16-bit application too so that 16-bit functionality gets fixed a bit more… (any game that uses Klik’n’Play doesn’t work, for example). :)

mangamuscleSeptember 12th, 2009 at 10:48 am

I wish you the best of luck, we really need a Wine 1.2 release ASAP.

jimboMarch 20th, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Please keep up the good work. Patience is a virtue.

Martin von WittichAugust 3rd, 2010 at 9:55 am

So this is the reason that the wine1.2 package actually contains wine 1.1?! That’s caused endless irritation for me and sure for some other people, because I believed the whole time I was running the most recent wine version there is when I actually had an older one :|

Leave a comment

Your comment