UPDATE: Debian’s freeze periods will be time-based, not the release cycles, read Matt Zimmerman’s explanation.
“Freezes will from now on happen in the December of every odd year, which means that releases will from now on happen sometime in the first half of every even year. To that effect the next freeze will happen in December 2009, with a release expected in spring 2010.”
Which means that Debian’s release cycle will now more or less match that of Ubuntu LTS. There’s been a few comments about it on Planet Debian, some a bit more negative and some more positive. Some people feel that releasing when it’s good and ready is better than the predictability that time-based releases bring (and the amount of RC bugs they usually are released with). In my opinion, I think it’s the best thing that Debian could do right now.
One of my biggest selling points with Ubuntu is its release cycles. It’s great knowing when the next release is due, especially for large deployments, and perhaps more importantly, knowing exactly how long the current release is supported. It makes planning easier, and makes more unknown things known.
Lucas Nussbaum asks why people would choose Debian over Ubuntu if Debian has older versions of the same software with the same release cycle. I think there are many users that will prefer Debian because it’s not a commercial distribution. Now and again I get slightly aggetated by Ubuntu’s commercial nature. If you’re using Karmic already, you’ll notice that every new Firefox tab will contain an Ubuntu branded custom Google search page, with no aparrent way to disable it. It also comes installed with Ubuntu One, which relies on a non-free server ran as a service by Canonical. Ubuntu also reminds you that you can manage your system using Landscape, which has an open source client but again, a non-free server that you can buy licenses from Canonical. It doesn’t put off a lot of people, but I can see how it can make Debian so much more attractive. Having things like the Landscape and Ubuntu One clients installed by default reminds me of those Windows 95 default desktops that was filled with things like “Sign Up for AOL!”. Ubuntu isn’t anywhere close to that at least, and I don’t think it will ever be, but it’s good to know that Debian is there and that it doesn’t have any adware properties to it.
I hope that the time-based releases work out really well for Debian, and that developers find ways to make it as beneficial as possible for both Debian and Ubuntu.