Should beta software be in the Ubuntu Long Term Release? - Adventures in Switching to Linux

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Should beta software be in the Ubuntu Long Term Release?

I've been wondering since the alpha 3 release notes what Firefox 3 beta was doing as the default browser in Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron), due out on April 24th, a mere 4 days away (RC notes). I wonder this because the final Firefox release is not expected to be released until about June. It seems odd to me to include beta software as the default for a LTS release that will be supported for 3 years. It seems a little odd for most any release really.

I am assuming though that as subsequent betas, release candidates and the final release are made available, those packages will make their way into the OS as updates and that the Firefox version in Ubuntu 8.04 will ultimately be Firefox 3 (not stuck at beta 5).

I have not seen any formal discussion or mention of this decision but there have been a few Brainstorm ideas (see images above) concerning the issue and a 12+ page discussion on the Ubuntu Forums (Ubuntu 8.04 - worried about Firefox 3 Beta).

Most people, and I am one of them, think the 2 months of dealing with a beta version is well worth it in the long run. Do we really want people to be using Firefox 2 in 2011 because Firefox 3 was only 2 months away from a final release in early 2008? Mozilla certainly will not be supporting it anymore by then. This is one of the unfortunate side effects of time based releases but I think Ubuntu made the right decision.

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