[sugar] Release Cycle
Thu Aug 14 14:34:44 EDT 2008
Now that Sugar Labs has released .8.2 to OLPC it is time to revisit the
release cycle issue.
I have the feeling that most of us agree _in_principle_ to the idea that
an established release cycle is important.
As part of his Ph.D. Martin Michlmayr has done some interesting research
on the topic. He provides a good introduction to the topic in his talk
'Open Source Speaker Series: Release Management in Large Free Software
Projects'.  His thesis is also available. 
Some thoughts on on how the release process applies to Sugar Labs.
- Background -
1. Software engineering is hard. There is no silver bullet. No design
methodology, governance process, or optimistic belief is going to ensure
the success of Sugar.
2. Sugar is Open Source.
3. Sugar Labs is a community. At the end of the day, it does not
matter why Sugar Labs chose the community development process. It is
here and we are stuck with it;) both good points and bad points.
- Stakeholders -
4. Are our stakeholder happy? The primary goal of any software project
is to ensure that its stakeholders are happy. This happy is not a '70
kind of happy. Rather, it is a happy where our users continue to chose
our product over similar products and contributing stakeholders feel
that they have a net benefit from the time, effort, and money the invest
in the project.
5. Who are our stakeholders? Currently, we can roughly divide our
stakeholders into three categories: OLPC, RedHat, and Sugar Labs. It
would be convenient if we could split our group cleanly into these
categories. We can't. Some Sugar Labs volunteers align themselves with
the OLPC goal. Some RedHat employees are under contract through OLPC.
Some OLPC employees are involved in spreading Sugar beyond the XO.
6. What are our stakeholder's long term goals? Make Sugar the best,
most widely available, learning environment.
7. How do we meet those goals? At its heart, this is an economic
problem. All of our stake holders have unlimited wants and limited
- Fast, cheap, now. Chose two. -
8. What are our Stakeholder's short term goals? Disclaimer: I have no
formal knowledge of anyone's goals. These are the goal I would have if
I was wearing the stakeholders shoes.
8a. OLPC. Stability and predictability. OLPC is providing support for
an entire deployment stack. Hardware, Software, and content. As such,
they need to have a _stable_ piece of software in the field. For the
next release, they need predictability. They need to know how Sugar
will fit into their stack 6 months, 1 year, and more into the future.
8b. Redhat. Grow the Linux market and mindshare. Redhat has been
doing a pretty good business selling subscriptions to their
distribution. Their subscription model is unique in that the software
is available for free and their interoperability efforts reduce the cost
of leaving RedHat to $0. They want to expand the world wide market for
linux by making it the best technological product. They want to
associate the Fedora/Redhat brands with these efforts.
8c1. Sugar Labs. Survival. In all seriousness, our immediate goal is
survival. We are faced with the challenge of retaining our current
stakeholder while adding enough new stakeholders to be come
8c2. Sugar Labs. Engage stakeholders to improve Sugar. We want to
improve Sugar to the point that:
Sugar is the platform of choice for educators.
Sugar is the platform of choice for educational application
Sugar is the platform of choice for educational distributions.
Sugar is the platform of choice for hardware developers.
- Rock, Scissors, Paper -
9. For the past several months it seems that we have been using the
children's game of rock, paper scissors as our decision making
mechanism;) Every decision needed a winner and a loser.
Now, it is time for our stakeholder representative to sit down and hash
out a plan for the up coming release cycle. I am not naive enough to
think that we can immediately forget our past grudges or politics. But,
I am optimistic enough to think that we can agree enough to set mutual
goals and allocate resources to those goal...for one release cycle. The
best thing about release cycles is that in six months we can revisit our
goals and asset reallocation.
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