How the Development Model Works

The following takes you through a whole cycle and then back again.

The Experimental Phase

The Experimental Phase cycle starts with the previous release as a basis. From there it builds upon the newly submitted code which can come either from Bugzilla, the devel list or patch submissions. Often this code is maintenance patches against the former release that were not high priority (show-stoppers); they can be the source for new features, now that someone has some time to review them.

Code submitted and applied during this period is released semi-monthly as an Experimental Snapshot or our interim release. Commit messages happen as the code is committed. The Changelog is a running account of what has been committed up to current point in time.

It is in the Experimental phase that the XFree86 user and developer community-at-large is asked to participate in the makings of the next release cycle.

Work put up and submitted into the CVS now is often a work-in-progress, and as such is subject to many fluctuations as the developers and community discuss what form these submittals should take. So there is no guarantee that interim releases will either compile or build and features previewed during the experimental phase may get pulled before final release as they may be considered still too 'new' and untried for official release.

All of this happens on devel at and new work must be introduced there first. Our Bugzilla is not for new ideas but for bugs on established (versions) implementations. If you put your new idea mistakenly into the Bug-man please do not be surprised if no one replies or if they ask you to re-submit it to the devel list.

And finally, our Experimental snaps unlike our tagged releases are neither signed nor verified for authenticity. We do not guarantee that they will work but hope that they do and problems with the 'snaps should be reported to the support list, XFree86 at

The Feature Freeze

Feature Freeze is the date by which all code that is implementing new features must be submitted so that it can be considered for inclusion into stable release. It is technically the tail-end of the Experimental Phase and a signal that the Release process is about to begin.

Automatic snaps are no longer produced; now each Release Candidate is manually tagged and put up on our ftp site. xtest takes the center stage as does our X testing packages as we am for a conformant (i.e. one that meets the X specification requirements; prime among that is an X Windows System that passes xtest) X product. This is the whole goal of our release cycle and we testing is such a large part of our cycle.

Usually there is only one Feature Freeze per release cycle, though sometimes, someone comes forth with code that would really be a great advancement after the date or a serious bug hits the spotlight. When either of these events happen, it has the effect of delaying the whole release schedule as it pushes everything out.

Bugs submitted to Bugzilla, should be retested and closed by the submitter if fixed.

The Code Freeze

After a period of time, the Feature Freeze Phase ends, and the Code Freeze begins.

The Code Freeze is totally different from the Feature Freeze as now the release is really gearing up and the fixes being submitted are truly fixes which will effect either the stability or security of the release. Code at this point should be fast-tracked to the devel list.

Bugs considered low-impact, should be stored in the Bug-Man for post-release updates.

Testing continues but in a less vigorous manner.

The Release

We like to call The Release, Show-time, because that is what it really is; when the rubber hits the road; when the Release goes live and takes centre stage It's when we get to Show-off and boast, if you will.

The Release is what everything in the whole development year is geared towards. This is when a production-ready or stable XFree86 is crafted with a well defined feature set and a low number of bugs but no known stability or security issues.

We are so proud of The Release that it is digitally signed and authenticated. (See our security FAQ for further details.) At this point, all Bugs on Bugzilla from previous stages are considered moot or closed and should be re-tested by the original reporter. As we do not have the manpower to close every bug out ourselves, we consider it a courtesy that the community at large pitch in on this: or clean up after yourself.

And with the Release out, the cycle begins anew, for on the day after the Release, we're in the Experimental Phase...

Tell our Webmaster of errors or omissions on this page.

XFree86® is a registered trademark of The XFree86 Project, Inc.

Last Modified: 9 January 2005.

Valid XHTML 1.0!