Beta packages within stable releases

Ken Chilton ken at
Sat Oct 10 19:57:49 UTC 2009

Dear members of the Fedora Board,

I wish to encourage you to reconsider the policies regarding packages in 
Fedora releases.  Currently, within Fedora 11, there are key packages 
being distributed which are still in beta or otherwise unstable 
condition with matching, prior stable packages available.  Fedora 11, as 
best as I can tell, is not a beta or development release.

There used to be a practice in all things Linux where even-numbered 
release numbers implied stable releases, where odd-numbered releases 
were development tracks.  The Linux kernel follows such a scheme, with 
2.4.x and 2.6.x being the (more) stable.  I am unaware that Fedora 11 is 
following this scheme.  Please correct me if I am mistaken.  It also 
might be nice to modify the Fedora Project web page to indicate that 
release 11 is a development platform and provide clear links to Fedora 10.

Two packages of particular note and suitable as exemplars are Firefox 
and Thunderbird.  These are well-known and basic to the Fedora release 
for most users.  While many Linux developers produce high-quality betas 
and releases, these two packages are worth special attention.

Firefox 3.5.3-1 has both a memory leak and a problem with CPU usage.  
When left open for more than a day, with several tabs used, the package 
steadily increases its memory consumption from a few hundred megabytes 
to over 1.6 gigabytes.  The CPU consumption, on a multicore AMD machine, 
has been observed to start at 40% while minimized to 100% after a few 
hours on non-use.  Users of the latest versions of Firefox have found 
that frequent killing of the Firefox process and restarting is required 
(this is on Fedora, not Windows).  While this problem has existed to 
some small degree in the past, the latest versions are actually much 
worse, contrary to the Firefox developers' claims.  While the Firefox 
community continues to struggle with fixes, removal of add-ins, and 
other attempts to locate the source of the problems and placate their 
users on all platforms, Fedora continues to adopt the latest buggy 
release of the tool as it is unleashed.  It would seem prudent that 
Fedora have some degree of QA concerning the packages it considers key.  
A web browser is one of the features that everyone from the mere novice 
to the staunch professional requires.  Fedora should select the best 
browser available, and not just the most recent or the one with the most 
features.  It would seem appropriate that Fedora should refuse to move 
forward to newer releases of packages that move backward in quality.  
Fedora Project should implement its own QA and select the stable 
releases for its stable releases. This might also be of benefit to the 
Firefox developers, who can spend more time chasing down the problems 
Fedora has implicated, and less time trying to run and tie their 
shoelaces at the same time.

Thunderbird 3 is currently undergoing many changes.  While developers 
continue to add more features and new development versions are released, 
those working on the coding and testing of the new features are not at 
all disturbed by the frequent changes to the UI and other 
characteristics of the tool.  However, those who depend on the email 
facilities in Fedora are likely quite worried when Thunderbird pops up a 
dire warning about using a beta package for real life.  Anyone who would 
be furious when all of their email, current and filed, is lost because 
the beta package did what we were told it /could/ do.  A user who 
expects to take a quick check of his email and finds that the whole UI 
has changed, his preferences gone, and previously admissible email now 
finds a home in the junk mail abyss might be a bit perturbed by the 
advent of Fedora 11.  It would seem quite reasonable that Fedora 11beta 
would include beta releases, but "Fedora 11 Release" should have only 
included Thunderbird 2 in the "release" repository, with Thunderbird 3 
in the "testing" one.  If during the beta phase of Fedora, a package 
cannot be deemed stable, it should either be excluded from Fedora or 
Fedora should revert to the prior, stable version of that package.  Beta 
software is not intended for production environments.  Anyone who needs 
the email to work will not want to rely on a beta package.  Thunderbird 
3 has become a black mark on Fedora 11 and something I hope the Fedora 
Project plans never to repeat.

So, I hope this email will be received in a positive light.  I suspect 
you may have already heard from many others, since this seems too big to 
ignore.  I hope that we might see a change in the Fedora Project to 
provide stable releases to the community while not hampering 
development.  This might mean adoption of the even/odd scheme, or a more 
formal QA criteria and process, or maybe just slowing down the 
alpha/beta phases to allow more testing before calling it a release.  I 
believe some of what has happened was in hope for the best, but in the 
end there must be a right solution and that is the one that considers 
the consumer.  Please remember that the consumer wants quality, not just 

Feel free to contact me if anything I have said is unclear, incomplete, 
or incorrect.  Thank you for all of your hard work in making Fedora and 
making it great!

Thank you,

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