Bullseye Freeze Timeline and Policy

let's release!

Table of Contents

Summary

The freeze for bullseye will happen according to the following timeline:

These phases are fully explained below, but condense down to the following summary:

TODO we need some style definitions for this table

Transition and (build-)essential Freeze Soft Freeze Hard Freeze Full Freeze
2021-01-12 2021-02-12 2021-03-12 TBA
All packages Non-key packages with autopkgtests Key packages and packages without autopkgtests All packages
Acceptable changes No large/disruptive changes Only small, targeted fixes
Transitions No new transitions
Changes to (build-)essential Only after pre-approval
Min. migration delay Standard (2/5/10d) 10 days 20 days After unblock After unblock
Autopkgtest bounty Yes No
New src packages Standard automatic migration No
Re-entry to testing Standard automatic migration No
Adding/removing binary packages Standard automatic migration No
Migration rules Standard automatic migration Automatic migration, except if manually blocked Manual review only Manual review only

Before the freeze

Plan your changes for bullseye

If you are planning big or disruptive change, check the timeline to see if it's still realistic to finish them before the Transition and (build-)essential Freeze. Keep in mind that you might need cooperation from other volunteers, who might not necessarily have the time or capacity to work on this. You can stage your changes in experimental to make sure all affected packages are ready before uploading the changes to unstable.

Fix release-critical bugs

You can help the development of bullseye by fixing RC bugs, before and during the freeze. An overview of bugs can be found on the UDD bugs page.

You can also join the #debian-bugs irc channel on irc.oftc or join a Bug Squashing Party.

Add non-trivial autopkgtests to your package

Autopkgtests help to discover regressions in your package or its dependencies, before they can migrate to testing. Please consider adding autopkgtests to your package that test a substantial part of its functionality.

Please note that all rules in the freeze policy about 'autopkgtests' only apply to non-trivial autopkgtests. If you think it's useful to add autopkgtests that only do limited testing of your package, please mark them as superficial (see the autopkgtest specification).

Testing migration

The 'standard' testing migration rules apply:

Transition and (build-)essential Freeze

Starting 2021-01-12, the main changes to what is expected from maintainers are:

No new transitions

When changes in a package cause the need for changes in other packages, we call this a 'transition'. The most common example is a library transition. Transitions require coordination between maintainers and can take a long time to finish, especially when bugs are discovered during the transition. Unfinished transitions can block the migration of unrelated fixes in the packages involved in the transition. From the start of the Transition and (build-)essential Freeze, it's no longer appropriate to start new transitions.

No changes to packages that are (transitively) part of (build-)essential

Changes to packages in (build-)essential affect the build of every package. The impact of bugs in these packages can take a lot of time to resolve. Therefore, they are no longer appropriate. This is especially the case for toolchain packages, build systems, packaging helpers, etc.

If you think changes are needed anyway, please coordinate with the release team before uploading to unstable. Consider staging changes in experimental.

The packages for which this policy applies are listed separately.

No large/disruptive changes

Any change which is large or disruptive, which requires coordination or has a higher change of regressions is no longer appropriate at this time.

Please note that the removal of python2 support in your package is no longer appropriate at this point.

Be careful with new upstream releases

Before uploading a new upstream release of your package, double-check if the changes are appropriate at this time. If you're unsure, it might be better to upload to experimental instead.

Do fix RC bugs

If a package still has RC bugs at the beginning of the Transition and (build-)essential Freeze, please try to fix them. Note that you should do that in a targeted way, respecting the rules above.

When in doubt, talk to the release team

The rules above are not enforced in an automated way. We ask all maintainers to follow these rules when uploading packages. If you're unsure about a change you want to do, don't hesitate to talk to the release team. The recommended way is via an unblock bug in the bts which has the regular unblock tags and an appropriate title, e.g. starting with pre-approval.

Testing migration

Changes in the rules for automatic testing migration:

As the rules above are not automatically enforced, the 'standard' testing migration rules are enforced.

Soft Freeze

Starting 2021-02-12, only small, targeted fixes are appropriate for bullseye. We want maintainers to focus on small, targeted fixes. This is mainly at the maintainers discretion, there will be no hard rule that will be enforced.

Please note that new transitions, new versions of packages that are part of (build-)essential or large/disruptive changes remain inappropriate.

The release team might block the migration to testing of certain changes if they might cause disruption for the release process.

Increased delay for all testing migrations

The testing migration delay of all packages will be increased to 10 days. This means the rate of changes to testing will slow down. This will also increase the chance that regressions are discovered before they reach testing.

The minimum delay of 10 days will also apply to packages with successful autopkgtests.

No new packages and no re-entry to testing

Packages that are not in testing will not be allowed to migrate to testing. This applies to new packages as well as to packages that were removed from testing (either manually or by auto-removals). Packages that are not in bullseye at the start of the soft freeze will not be in the release.

Dropping or adding binary packages to a source package, moving binaries between source packages or renaming source or binary packages is no longer allowed. Packages with these changes will not be allowed to migrate to testing. These changes are also no longer appropriate in unstable.

Please note that packages that are in bullseye at the start of the soft freeze can still be removed if they are buggy. This can happen manually or by the auto-removals. Once packages are removed, they will not be allowed to come back.

No changes in unstable that are not targeted for bullseye

Don't upload changes to unstable that are not targeted for bullseye. Having changes in unstable that are not targeted/appropriate for bullseye could complicate fixes for your package and related packages (like dependencies and reverse dependencies).

Testing migration

Changes in the rules for testing migration:

The following rules still apply:

Hard Freeze - for key packages and packages without autopkgtest

Starting 2021-03-12, key packages and packages without autopkgtest will be treated as in the Full Freeze (see below) while non-key packages with autopkgtest will be treated as during the Soft Freeze (see above).

See below for a detailed description of the changes that are allowed and the procedure to request an unblock.

Hard freeze for key packages

As key packages are exempted from auto-removals, RC bugs or regressions in key packages can potentially cause delays in the freeze process. To decrease the change of new regressions in testing, all changes to key packages will need an unblock by the release team.

Hard freeze for non-key packages without autopkgtests

Changes to non-key packages that don't have autopkgtests require an unblock by the release team.

Soft freeze for non-key packages with autopkgtests

For non-key packages with (non-trivial) autopkgtests, the rules of the soft freeze still apply, but the migration delay is increased to 20 days. This allows targeted fixes to your package to reach testing (eventually), without the need for the release team to review them.

Please note that for these packages, the rules from the soft freeze will still not be automatically enforced. However, your change could cause RC bugs or regressions that might result in the (auto-)removal of your package and its reverse dependencies. If your upload clearly violates the rules above, and causes regressions in testing, it might be manually removed without warning.

If you upload contains a targeted fix that is urgent (security update, ...), you can file an unblock request to ask for faster migration to testing.

Testing migration

Changes in the rules for testing migration:

The following rules still apply:

Full Freeze

We only intend to start the Full Freeze shortly before the actual release of bullseye. The starting date of the Full Freeze will be decided when we start planning a release date and will be announced at least 14 days before it comes into effect. During the Full Freeze, all packages can only migrate to testing after manual review by the release team. For key packages and packages without autopkgtests, the rules stay the same. From the start of the full freeze, those rules will also apply to other packages.

We have some criteria for what changes we are going to accept. These are listed below. These criteria will become more rigid as the freeze progresses.

The release managers may make exceptions to these guidelines as they see fit. Such exceptions are not precedents and you should not assume that your package has a similar exception. Please talk to us if you need guidance, but please consult the FAQ first.

Please talk to us early and do not leave issues to the last minute. We are happy to advise in case you need the release team's help to fix RC bugs (e.g. to remove an old package)

Testing migration

Changes in the rules for testing migration:

The following rules continue to apply:

Appropriate changes during Hard and Full Freeze

  1. targeted fixes for release critical bugs (i.e., bugs of severity critical, grave, and serious);
  2. fixes for severity: important bugs, only when this can be done via unstable;
  3. translation updates and documentation fixes, only when this can be done via unstable;
  4. updates to packages directly related to the release process (i.e. with references to the current layout of the archive), only when this can be done via unstable;

Note that when considering a request for an unblock, the changes between the (proposed) new version of the package in unstable and the version currently in testing are taken in to account. If there is already a delta between the package in unstable and testing, the relevant changes are all of those between testing and the new package, not just the incremental changes from the previous unstable upload. This is also the case for changes that were already in unstable at the time of the freeze, but didn't migrate at that point. If unstable has changes that are not appropriate for testing at this point of the freeze, please revert them, even if that means reverting to an earlier upstream version.

We very strongly prefer changes that can be done via unstable instead of testing-proposed-updates. If there are unrelated changes in unstable, we ask you to revert these changes instead of making an upload to testing-proposed-updates. Hence, and also because it may impact other packages in unstable that try to migrate to bullseye, it is recommended that, during the freeze, you do not upload to unstable any changes for which you do not intend to request an unblock.

Applying for an unblock

  1. Prepare a source debdiff between the version in testing and unstable
  2. Look at the entire resulting debdiff before uploading to unstable. If the debdiff it big, or contains changes that are unrelated to the fixes you want, don't upload the package. // TODO list a maximum number of lines?
  3. Use reportbug to report an unblock bug against the release.debian.org meta-package. Attach the source diff. Include a detailed justification of the changes and references to bug numbers.
  4. Please include a concise description of the issue you are trying to fix. Explain how you verified that the changes actually fix the issue. If you have reports of tests that confirm the fix works, please include pointer to them
  5. If the diff is small and you believe it will be approved, you can upload it to unstable before filing the unblock request to avoid a round-trip.
  6. Depending on the queue, there may be some delay before you receive further instructions.

If you are unable to bring your fix through unstable, for example because your package in unstable is dependent on a version of another package that isn't available in bullseye and that is not being unblocked, the release team can grant you permission to use the testing-proposed-updates mechanism. Make sure you fix the issue in unstable following the rules outlined above and prepare a no-change upload targeting testing-proposed-updates but do not upload it, and then contact us through an unblock bug. testing-proposed-updates is not meant to prevent "ugly" version numbers for packages that already have a newer upstream version in unstable. You're requested to revert the upstream version instead, e.g. by using a new-version+reallyold-version versioning scheme.

Targeted fixes

A targeted fix is one with only the minimum necessary changes to resolve a bug. The freeze process is designed to make as few changes as possible to the forthcoming release. Uploading unrelated changes is likely to result in a request for you to revert them if you want an unblock.

In most cases, it's not appropriate to upload a new upstream release at this point. New upstream release usually contain unrelated changes, which might be inappropriate or make review much more difficult. Uploading a new upstream release is only appropriate when the resulting debdiff doesn't contain changes that wouldn't be in the debdiff of a targeted change. When in doubt, ask for pre-approval before uploading a new upstream release.

Some examples of changes that are undesirable during a freeze:

  1. bumping the debhelper compat level
  2. switching to a different packaging helper
  3. adding or dropping a systemd unit or an init script
  4. adding, removing or renaming binary packages
  5. adding or removing support for a language (version)
  6. moving files between binary packages
  7. changing relations (depends, conflicts, ...) between packages
  8. changes that affect other packages
  9. dropping a -dbg package in favour of -dbgsym
  10. rearranging code, 'cleanups', etc

Removing packages from testing during the freeze

Throughout the freeze, we will continue to remove non-key packages with RC bugs in testing and their reverse dependencies automatically. As usual, the auto-removal system will send a notice before this happens. Please note that it is not enough for the bug to be fixed in unstable. The fix (in unstable or testing-proposed-updates) must be done in such a way that the fixed package can be unblocked and allowed to migrate to testing, based on the rules listed above. You must contact us to ensure the fix is unblocked - do not rely on the release team to notice on their own.

Manual removal may still happen without warning before the standard auto-removal periods have passed, when the package is blocking other fixes.

After the soft freeze begins, removed packages will not be permitted to re-enter testing.