How stuff works : Linux Mint
by clem 17

A typical release cycle…

Design

Great ideas come up, ridiculous ones too… and the team reinvents the World. What if Mint did this, what if Cinnamon did that.. this is the time when we debate things and decide what we want to see in the next release.

It’s very exciting because we’re very ambitious and we usually have 6 months in front of us at that time.

Implementation

The next phase consists in doing the work. More ideas come up of course, but most of the time is spent in implementing the big features that were planned.

This takes most of the cycle and it’s very exciting as well. There’s no hurry… and things gradually get better and receive new features. There’s that feeling of working on something great which the general public doesn’t really know about yet… like when you’re cooking a chocolate cake and the kids aren’t back from school yet… that anticipation of people being happy with what you’re creating, if that makes any sense :)

Feature freeze

This is the phase where I’m the killjoy. I get there and I stop all the developers and tell them to put their toys down. No more coding, no more new features. It’s all about integration and bug fixing. Anything that isn’t fully ready at that stage is dropped.

Developers usually hate that phase :)

I really enjoy it personally. Not because I’m sadistic or anything… but because from the rough implementation of multiple projects I slowly but surely get towards a finished product.

QA

Quality Control… :)

That’s the phase everybody hates, myself included.

Test cases, validation etc… thankfully that usually only lasts a few days.

RC

The release candidate… it’s hard to describe what goes on in an RC. You’re almost tempted to feel like the work is done… everything is stable (it passed QA after all), people are about to see what the team has done for the past 6 months, and it should feel great, right? …. heh… right?

Well, the thing is.. there’s millions of users out there and they ALWAYS find bugs :)

So the RC feels like this:

A race against the clock to fix bugs quicker than people find them :)

It’s exhausting, depressing even (when critical bugs are found) but it greatly enhances the quality and it ensures most of what would annoy users is found before the stable release.

We have a policy here and you will NEVER EVER see a stable release without a public RC prior to it.

Release day

This is what release day feels like:

For a few hours anyway…

… as long as the servers manage to hold the burst in traffic :)

downtimejpg

And then we do it all over again… back to design!! :)

17 thoughts on “How stuff works : Linux Mint

  1. gme2668 May 29,2013 19:35

    Wow! Thank you for breaking it all down, I now appreciate what it takes to make a release. Much gratitude for the work that you and the dev team do.

  2. JosephM May 29,2013 19:43

    Thanks for the quick breakdown. Cool to see how things are done. Really enjoying Mint 15 and looking forward to what you guys cook up next. This was a great release with some excellent new features. Will be tough to match this one again next time.

  3. Hugo Masse May 29,2013 20:50

    Dear Clem,

    Not many days ago, I was tempted to support the idea that LM should focus on LTS editions and forget about in-between releases, especially now that they will only be supported for nine months. But then I came across your linkdIn profile and I had a different perspective, which now I confirm with this post of yours: Linux Mint is the best distro out there because people who do it really enjoy doing it! And us Minters share that joy when we try out RCs or the different editions (I started with LM11 LXDE and don’t want to stop.)

    I sense that working for the next release six months from now is a driving force for all the dev team and that shows in the attention to detail and excellence of each distro. Changing that would not make sense and may harm the way you are doing things now so anyone who comes up with that suggestion should give it a serious thought. Welcome linux Mint 15 and we’ll start dreaming about LM 16 in October!

    A big fan from Mexico.
    ( I forgot to proofread the previous post)

  4. samriggs May 29,2013 22:25

    lol got a good laugh reading this one.
    Yaaa let’s create, bugs found, bang head against wall, fixed bugs, QA good enough for RC, hurray!!! , ohhhh nooo look at all that feedback of what don’t work, bang head against wall, fix bugs in shorter then normal time (superman would be proud at the speed) bugs fixed :) final release whoohooo! rest for a second, LONG ENOUGH, let’s start it all over again lol.
    I needed a good laugh today, thanks.
    By the way I installed it on a 10 32bit netbook with only 1 gig of ram and it runs flawslessly, the only complaint I got is, I had to hand the netbook back to the rightful owner lol.

  5. Kirk M May 30,2013 01:14

    Nice breakdown, Clem. Accurate too. ;-)

    @samriggs – Almost like theater, yes?

  6. samriggs May 30,2013 01:39

    @Kirk ya it’s almost like slapstick comedy :)
    I go through the same things with my own stuff, just good to see I’m not the only one :)
    It just amazed me that they flew through the bugs in the short amount of time as they did. A mark of a great team.

  7. Anand May 30,2013 05:00

    Nice article on life cycle and cool images too :-) Thanks for posting this.

  8. Matthew Morgan May 30,2013 19:11

    After using Linux and trying various distros for years, it felt funny to see this process dilineated as you have here. At first, I thought, “Who doesn’t know this? This is a bit weird.”

    Then I immediatley remembered my days of exploring my various options regarding software and distros; the time when I *didn’t* know any of this stuff and had to infer it after lots and lots of reading. That’s when I realized that this is just the sort of thing we need more of if we want other people to be comfortable moving into the Open Source world, where the details of development aren’t hidden away in a secret office building but instead are out there for the world to see.

  9. Brahim May 31,2013 00:53

    HI Clem

    I like the way you put things down. Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” lool but I have been banned from the forum after ‘nomko’ attacked me. Mind you i have repeatedly reported him and I had enough of him so I wrote him a poem looooool. Maybe i shouldn’t have done that but i need my account especially this week! plzzz interfere Clem. I missed my friends there. By the way that nomko is still at loose!

    BTW I’m promoting Mint in Tunisia and Mint 15 is exactly what people look for! Best OS ever !

  10. Brahim May 31,2013 00:58

    BTW this ban messed up my joy of Mint 15!

  11. Brahim May 31,2013 01:05

    Hi samriggs

    I have been banned from the forum because nomko attacked me again. I know he is still at loose attacking people. Please report him if he replies to my posts or make fun of me! thanks!

  12. Chris Jun 2,2013 23:08

    I been using Mint since 2010. Only time i skipped it was mint 11 throu 13 but I still love it ver stable compared to Ubuntu.

  13. Stew Jun 11,2013 12:48

    This does put things into perspective. I’ve always thought of it, as you described, but not so much with ironing out the bugs and how it’s up and down, until release.

  14. Wayne Twine Jan 31,2014 22:30

    MESSAGE FOR CLEM

    Hello Clem

    I so loved this article because I also am part of the build team for a distribution.
    Its called RhinoLINUX, and it is also based on Debian, Ubuntu and ALSO Linux Mint.

    I have a quick question regarding customization of Ubiquity installer, which I hung around the Ubuntu forums and couldnt really get help – thing is – you have fixed my problem in your Linux Mint. It wasnt there when we first started RhinoLINUX but crept in somewhere afterward…

    It has to do with the screen where one chooses what type of install….ie Install alongside …Erase disk and install…etc

    The problem is : Even tho i have set my issue,issue.net,lsb-release and info files correctly, the questions which address LVM and encrypted disk setup still refer to Ubuntu, not RhinoLINUX.

    I let this issue go with v6 series but I am so wanting v7 series releases to be professional standard distros.

    Any advice, Clem? I know u guys fixed it for Linux Mint :)

    Thanks a lot for any input

    • clem Feb 3,2014 10:04

      Hi Wayne,

      The best thing is to contact Canonical. For this particular issue check in remaster/.disk/info, that’s what Ubiquity uses to fetch the name.

  15. Wayne Twine Feb 15,2014 00:39

    Thanx Clem, will do so.

  16. Wayne Twine Feb 17,2014 18:18

    Hello everybody just wanted to let you all know that RhinoLINUX 7.0 series development has completed and that we wil be releasing Main Edition and Lite XFce Editions this coming weekend. Next week we will release KDE Edition and the new Gnome-Shell Edition.
    RhinoLINUX 7.0 “Saucy Suzie” is based on Ubuntu 13.10 “Saucy Salamander” and Linux Mint 16 “Petra” – Main Edition features MATE as primary desktop environment, Lite Edition features XFCE desktop.
    Please give RhinoLINUX a try and let us know what you think.
    To Clem and ALL the Linux Mint team we thank you for all the hard work making our upstream base distro, it is such a pleasure building off Linux Mint rather than Ubuntu or Debiah.

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