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Firefox Mozilla Open Source Software Upgrades

Firefox Adopts a 6-8 Week Variable Release Schedule (mozilla.org) 249

AmiMoJo writes: Four years ago Mozilla moved to a fixed-schedule release model, otherwise known as the Train Model, in which we released Firefox every six weeks to get features and updates to users faster. Now Mozilla is moving to a variable 6-8 week cycle, with the same number of releases per year but some flexibility to 'respond to emerging user and market needs' and allow time for holidays. The new release schedule looks like this:
  • 2016-01-26 – Firefox 44
  • 2016-03-08 – Firefox 45, ESR 45 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-04-19 – Firefox 46 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-06-07 – Firefox 47 (7 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-08-02 – Firefox 48 (8 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-09-13 – Firefox 49 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-11-08 – Firefox 50 (8 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-12-13 – Firefox 50.0.1 (5 week cycle, release for critical fixes as needed)
  • 2017-01-24 – Firefox 51 (6 weeks from prior release)

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Firefox Adopts a 6-8 Week Variable Release Schedule

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  • Holy Cow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:43AM (#51457129)

    Once again, I'm glad I don't work for Mozilla. Is their plan subtitled "How to create burnout in your workforce"?

    Seriously: Great company; but I hope the punishing schedule doesn't cause their workforce to abandon ship.

    • Re:Holy Cow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:52AM (#51457181) Journal
      How can you possibly know if that is a tough schedule or not, without knowing what they are going to put into each release?
      Release cadence is like a CPU clock speed.....it tells you nothing unless you know how much work is done during each cycle.
      • Re:Holy Cow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:57AM (#51457217)

        QA still needs to test the entire product every single release, no matter what was added or changed.

        And just because you *can* slip an unfinished feature to the next release, doesn't mean your bosses will be happy about it.

        • Sounds like you've been subjected to a lot of miserable software managers over the years.......
          • Holy beef (Score:5, Insightful)

            by invictusvoyd ( 3546069 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:27PM (#51457697)
            Perhaps they leave the QA to the users .
            • I was wondering that, so I searched and apparently Mozilla has a QA team, and they even have a blog [mozilla.org]. Morale seems to be good, they even send members of their team to conferences......
              • I just wish Firefox could show how much CPU power a given tab was using. I normally have a bunch of tabs open, and the whole browser just dies sometimes. I know Amazon sucks for this, they really like periodically reloading the page and also run a crapload of javascript to track what you are doing on a given page, and ebay is only slightly less annoying.

                • A lot of webpages have memory leaks. They keep loading stuff and never unloading it.
                  And that's not even talking about the 'infinite scroll' pages like Pinterest.
        • It's not like they start a new version and then sprint to finish the entire thing and do QA and bugfixes all in 6 weeks. That would be ridiculous. If you look at their release history you see that after starting development on a new version it's 4-5 months before it's ready for release, which is quite a realistic timeframe.

        • QA still needs to test the entire product every single release, no matter what was added or changed.

          Ha ha, only in theory.

      • Re:Holy Cow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:24PM (#51457339) Journal

        This upgrade treadmill is getting ridiculous. Can't anybody build anything that will last more than a few weeks? Am I that old to believe long tern stability is a good thing?

        • Re:Holy Cow (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:32PM (#51457379) Journal
          Yeap. Let it be a lesson to any software development team: every time you write a line of code, or add a feature, or remove a feature, ask yourself: "Does this feature clearly make the product better?"

          If you answer no to that question too often (or if an unbiased observer would answer no), then you'll just be pushing things around haphazardly, like Google (and more likely you'll be making things worse).
          • Well, the whole architecture, including (especially?) the hardware, is more fragile than a house of cards. A browser capable of bringing down the whole machine, or even an entire network? I mean, please! How does anybody find this acceptable? We are doing technology the same way we do politics.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            "Does this feature clearly make the product better?"

            You need to ask "better for whom".... better for the end user, or better for advertisers?

            • Better for your customers, of course. They're the ones who pay the bills.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                In Mozilla's (and Google's) case that would definitely be the advertisers, they are the ones paying the bills. These 'upgrades' seem to be for their exclusive benefit. Truly necessary upgrades also go into Seamonkey, and that hasn't happened since November 8th. I have to assume that Firefox 'upgrades' are purely cosmetic and/or economic.

                • In Mozilla's (and Google's) case that would definitely be the advertisers, they are the ones paying the bills. These 'upgrades' seem to be for their exclusive benefit.

                  TBH I don't even know what differences there are between Mozilla/Chrome/Safari compared to a year ago. The UI has moved around a bit, but mostly they seem the same (some people have complained about feature removal, but it hasn't affected me).

              • You need to ask "better for whom".... better for the end user, or better for advertisers?

                Better for your customers, of course. They're the ones who pay the bills.

                So you're saying advertisers, then... because they _are_ the customers for most software these days.

        • Am I that old to believe long tern stability is a good thing?

          I just moved to FreeBSD for everything in my house. I'm too old for dicking around with 'bleeding edge'. When I was 17 'bleeding edge' was the latest Alpha or Beta release I could find of OS X. Anymore it seems like Windows is just the latest Alpha or Beta.

          With FreeBSD it may be old or 'out of date' with the latest and greatest but it works.

        • /sarcasm Don't you know? Releasing more often magically fixes all the (old) bugs! :-)

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          well..

          I suppose some boss has bonus riding on how many releases gets out.

          but not riding on what features if any get included in them.

          this looks like a plan to make releases, not to make development.

        • by Malc ( 1751 )

          In fairness they have an Extended Support Release that lasts a year. This is better than Chrome if that's what you want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:48AM (#51457151)

    You keep on doing what YOU want, while ignoring what the USERS want.

    Year after year, your popularity goes downhill. Do you even stop to think about that?

    Somehow you've been frittering away over $500,000 every DAY for the last several years, and for what?

    Your deliberate self-destruction is annoying and pathetic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 )
      What do the users want that they aren't supplying? I haven't noticed a problem.
      • What do the users want that they aren't supplying?

        Long term stability would be nice. A system that needs constant upgrading and maintenance is not a very good system. Imagine if you have to go out and get a new fridge or replace the drywall and siding on your house every month.

        • by Barefoot Monkey ( 1657313 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @02:51PM (#51458125)

          Sounds like you want Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR) [mozilla.org]. ESR releases receive a major update only once every 10 months, but still receive the same bugfix and security patches as the regular releases. Also, when you do get updated to a new ESR version, you know that it's one that's already been supported as a regular release for 2 months, so there's very little chance of surprise problems.

          The current version is Firefox ESR 38, which was released as ESR on 11 August last year. The next one is ESR 45, coming on 31 May, which will last all the way until 21 March next year.

          Hope that helps you.

          • It's better than vanilla Firefox, but it's still crap.

            I hate it on small screens. You can't get rid of the huuuuuuuuge zoom %age thing, even though it's taking up half your screen. There are other things that can't be changed, even if you install third-party stuff. Classic theme restorer is a decent college try, but it's fighting a battle that should never have happened.

            And if you like rounded tabs, it's so you can stick them up your butt easier.

          • Updates every 10 months if they are mandatory, is still too rapid. Remember when we could go a year or two without a major update that completely changed the UI or broke your plug ins?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:18PM (#51457633)

        Users want a consistent interface, which is to not be arbitrarily mucked with, or copy annoying features of That Other Browser, which do not serve the User. They want their browser not to routinely dumb down features to better accommodate the lowest common denominator.

        They want a lightweight, extensible, secure browser that respects their right to privacy, and enhances their privacy on the Internet. So far, they've done just about everything in their power to make sure Firefox does not supply these features; for example: Pocket. No reason for it to be anything other than another extension. Promising to do away with the extension framework down the road. Doing absolutely nothing about browser fingerprinting, when they're in the ideal position to fight it. Not allowing power users to whitelist sites that don't abuse Javascript. Etc. Etc.

        They want the extensions that attracted them to Firefox in the first place to continue to work, which is again something they've promised to do away with in some future release.

        In other words, if you had a goose which laid golden eggs, you'd probably want to take care of it and stuff, right? These guys do anything in their power to neglect and annoy that goose. The goose is going neurotic and plucking its own feathers and banging its head against the wall, and they think it's great.

      • What do the users want that they aren't supplying? I haven't noticed a problem.

        Don't be silly!

        The next release fixes the tagalog [wikipedia.org] rendering issue. Everyone needs to upgrade!

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:33PM (#51457733) Homepage Journal

        What do the users want that they aren't supplying? I haven't noticed a problem.

        Performance and reliability. Graphics updates are slow and after I resume from suspend I have to restart the browser or it chokes every few seconds. Sadly, I went to Pale Moon and it has the same problem.

        • Not to trivialize your problem, but if there's one nice thing I can say about Firefox is that it's been exceptionally reliable. I've had about 1 crash throughout all of 2015, and that's with Flash installed. Seriously.

          I do know that Firefox's hardware graphics acceleration gave me many issues over the years, though that seems to have been resolved since I got my latest nVidia graphics card a couple years ago. My best suggestion is to disable hardware acceleration. Indeed, I can't think of why plugins, e

      • From the responses, I see everyone wants different things. We can't have everything and still be a lightweight browser. That's the problem with all browsers. They are trying to give everything that everyone wants.
      • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) <hackertourist@NoSPam.xmsnet.nl> on Sunday February 07, 2016 @03:11PM (#51458221)

        It's more what they are taking away. It started with the status bar, then there was the ill-conceived move to Australis, version 44 removed fine-grained cookie permissions, next they're planning to kill off extensions.
        Over the past few years they've spent countless hours on integrating features few people cared for, and more hours taking away features we actually used.

      • Firefox OS user here.

        Dropping the platform for starters.

        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          Firefox OS user here as well. You'll be interested to know that they're only dropping it internally on smartphone, though not until after 2.6. There's nothing stopping manufacturers from moving forward with it on their own, without specific support from Mozilla. A bit like how manufacturers can use Android without specifically involving Google.

      • Stability. It's a nice thing to have. But Firefox is adding NEW features every release, features that no one asked for. So instead of 6 to 8 weeks between security or bug fix releases, we have 6-8 weeks of major releases with 1 to 2 weeks in between for hot fixes.

        Of course, if you are from the viewpoint that the customers are the advertising industry then perhaps you are right, they are being given everything they want.

    • by CRC'99 ( 96526 )

      ... and at some point, someone will start fixing bugs in Thunderbird that have been there for years.....

  • Yeah, whatever man.

    Firefox is falling off the wagon technologically anyway. You can feel the single-threaded model limiting things. Everything freezes from time to time and browsing is choppy. Google Maps is painfully laggy. Video playback uses huge amount of CPU. Screwing around with version numbers and release cycles are meaningless tweaks when there would be much bigger fundamental problems to solve.

    Chrome and Edge is where the rippin' development is happening.

    • CHrome and Edge are rolling release just like Firefox.

      • That's not the point here.
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          Yes, the point is to complain about Firefox, regardless of the merits of those complaints. Never mind that this schedule is actually lighter than the old schedule, nor that they've been doing rolling releases for ages. If Mozilla does anything, including something you've wanted them to do for a while, you've got to tell everyone it's the worst decision ever, and that the world is coming to an end.

  • Firefox Adopts a 6-8 Week Variable Release Schedule

    Thanks for the info. Around here we dump our garbage on Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays if there's a three-day weekend.

    • I thought of something similar, but it has to do with regularity of sitting on a porcelain plumbing fixture. Really, Mozilla has gone off the rails of sanity.

      • What ever happened to "it will be done when it's done?" Oh, right .... marketing ....
        • "it will be done when it's done?"

          That's great if you're the only person working on a project*. In the real work, people are trying to schedule their work on X that depends on Y and Z versus their work on A that depends on B and C. Are you just going to sit on your thumbs fro Y, Z, B, and C to all finish?

          *Actually, it isn't great if you're the only person on a project either, because somebody is waiting to use your project. That's what make it work rather than wasting time.

          • "It will be done when it's done" isn't just for single programmers, you know. Oh, wait - you obviously don't. To bad, so sad. Maybe you should tell Linus that's he's doing it wrong.
  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:51AM (#51457177)

    With the new faster release cycle they can alienate the existing user base with more efficiency and at a faster pace than ever before!

  • Dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:54AM (#51457201) Homepage Journal
    The idea of having a "regular schedule" of releases is stupid. What if you didn't have any compelling features to add? You are just going to do a release because that is what the release schedule says? Here is a hint guys: writing software is not supposed to be just to keep you busy. It is supposed to deliver a product that is useful.
    • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @11:57AM (#51457219)

      You don't think they're figuring out what features they're going to build into a release when they start the 6-8 week cycle for that release, do you? I suspect that, like any other sane engineering organizations, they have a large backlog of features and issues to pick from for each release.

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        unlikelike any other sane engineering organizations, nothing in that backlog is useful or improves the product in any sort of way

      • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Funny)

        by PsychoSlashDot ( 207849 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:04PM (#51457247)
        You're mostly right. I'm sure they have a very detailed plan for what features to remove at each release. By end-of-year 2017 the goal is to have Firefox resemble Notepad, only without mouse, keyboard, or clipboard input support.
    • Obviously each of those releases includes compelling features that have been added. They wouldn't bump up the major version number for a few trivial tweaks and patches, would they?
    • Re:Dumb (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Junta ( 36770 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @01:11PM (#51457597)

      Conversely, if you have no planned cadence, you can land in development hell, churning eternally without actually releasing because in the time feature A has matured, you decided to squeeze in feature B and decided it can't release without B, rinse and repeat.

    • "What if you didn't have any compelling features to add?"

      If there really are no new features and no bug fixes, then you can change the plan and not do a release on that date.

      There is vast difference between a changeable plan and no plan at all.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      You think say the Linux kernel isn't useful? They've been on a three month cycle for ages, roughly one month merge window and two months of release candidates. Basically what you want is for everybody to time box what they can do before the next release, but you can't know if you don't know how long that'll be. Maybe if it's two months you'll do some quick enhancements and fixes but if it's six you do a deeper restructuring. If 90% of your developers have finished according to plan and 10% is threatening to

  • by ThaumaTechnician ( 2701261 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:05PM (#51457253)
    It's a 42-day release schedule.

    It's a small but important difference.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a 42-day release schedule.

      It's a small but important difference.

      Cool, just in time to to pose the question to life, the universe and everything else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:11PM (#51457281)

    Pushing out releases just to check a checkbox off is very Agile. Instead, you should work towards making better software instead of trying to hit metrics.

  • The schedule allows new features to be added more quickly, so Firefox will get more bloated more quickly.

    .
    This is a good thing, how?

  • Over the past few years Mozilla has made tons of unpopular changes despite vociferous complaints. Will the new release schedule give them time to find out what their remaining users actually want?

  • Flexibility? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MtHuurne ( 602934 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @12:29PM (#51457361) Homepage

    some flexibility to 'respond to emerging user and market needs'
    (snip)
    2017-01-24 – Firefox 51 (6 weeks from prior release)

    I don't understand where they'll get the flexibility from when they're planning releases a year ahead...

    • 2016-11-08 – Firefox 50 (8 weeks cycle)
    • 2016-12-13 – Firefox 50.0.1 (5 week cycle, release for critical fixes as needed)
    • 2017-01-24 – Firefox 51 (6 weeks from prior release)

    They already know, 11 months in advanced, they'll need a critical fixes release then - and have planned ahead - so we can count on smoooooth sailing until December.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      No. They already know 11 months in advance, that they will do a bug-fix fix only release a week before the christmas/new years holiday season; when everyone takes off for a few weeks.

      They will not release anything major that release.
      And they will make it a short cycle (5 weeks) because by the next week, the 20th of December, people will already be taking off.

  • You were so busy with whether or not you could, you never bothered to ask whether or not you should. Every update is a chance to introduce a bug or incompatibility. I want stable software that runs on 2 -5 year old hardware. Also it takes time and bandwidth to do updates. The new interface is equivalent value to the old one, but the old one was better because we were used to it, etc
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @02:14PM (#51457933)

    My children will be using Firefox ver 7,462,354,846.01

    They'll need to buy more memory just to keep the version number from using up all the RAM.

    • My children will be using Firefox ver 7,462,354,846.01

      Lessee, Firefox's is at version 44, so you expect your children to be alive (7462354846-44)*7/52 = 1,004,547,761 years from now. But, after they've downloaded their consciousness into asteroid-sized computers, will they actually need a web browser? At that point, they should be able to just accept the raw ZPHTML42 text and render it mentally into the appropriate N-dimensional conceptual structure.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday February 07, 2016 @02:20PM (#51457969)

    Here's an idea for a feature...make it stop inexorably sucking up more and more memory until it slows to a crawl and then crashes.

    Now that would a cool feature.

    • Yesterday I caught Firefox using 2.6 GB of memory with only three windows (not tabs) open. I used the profiler to track what was causing the long, regular 2-3 second freezes, and it's always the garbage collector. 95% of any web page's rendering time was caused by the memory manager choking. I closed all but one window, and set the last window to "about:blank." Memory usage didn't even budge. Almost all of that RAM was used by the Javascript heap.

      The only time I've ever seen applications use more memor

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