Mark Shuttleworth, communist leader of the Nation of Ubuntu, and Aaron Seigo, figurehead for La Resistance (read: "I work on the desktop system that doesn't matter") are going at it regarding release cycles.
As much as I hate Linux, I gots mad respect for Shuttleworth. He's one of the few dudes that actually understands that the problem with Linux these days is not about code, it's about coordination. He's pointing out the fact that if OSS devs are going to continue to be dickheads and not work together, then there's no hope of fixing bug #1. His recent suggestion was for major open source projects to coordinate release cycles.
Unfortunately, Aaron responds with a standard dickheaded response. He says that he can't see what the value of synchronicity among releases is, especially if it reduces upstream productivity.
Aaron, as well as many others like him, has forgotten that the vast majority of self-mutilating Linux users use releases, not random code checked into upstream at random points in time. The value of synchronicity is that it makes for good releases. It starts to whittle away at the huge pile of bullshit that Linux users deal with. Why are compiler versions among the distros different, Aaron? Why are KDE versions different? Why are there so many different shipped versions of glibc? Do upstream developers actually like the fact that version X.1 is used there, and X.2 here, and X.3 over there, so that when an actual bug does come up, they can just say "not our fault!". Is it a big fucking smoke screen? Or maybe it's a hippie conspiracy to make sure that nobody ever writes commercial software for the platform by making it impossible to ship.
Synchronized releases also let everyone cooperate on testing. Everyone has the same bits, so information about bugs and fixes can be shared across everyone. But as Aaron says, clearly this has no value. Because you know, shit works for him.
Sadly, Aaron's response it typical. OSS developer's instincts are to optimize for developers. And every developer hates discipline, and so naturally they hate disciplined release cycles. If they were truly working to improve the lives of their users, then the benefit of coordinating release cycles would be plainly obvious.
Oh wait, but Aaron follows up. After rambling on a bit more about how OSS is nothing without the developers and how he doesn't care if anyone uses his code, he writes:
Why not have the system integration community (mostly the OSVs, really) come together and branch things for release at a certain point in time, defined by them, and work with upstream on stabilization of that branch? Instead of hoping that upstream does what they want, why don't they rally a bunch of cohorts from Novell, Red Hat, Debian, Mandriva, the MacOS and Windows communities, Canonical and whomever else wishes to engage and start offering a real, serious release process for upstream development to filter into? Upstreams that adopt a compatible method of development (such that branching could be done with at least semi-predictable results) could candidate for this service.
I know this would be a non-trivial investment, but if Mark is truly serious about what he suggests this would be a very compelling way to put his currency where his mouth is, so to speak. Stop trying to convince the world and just start doing it.
Yes Aaron. Lets have Ubuntu and Redhat come along and branch some random state of the tree. No matter that Joe Dickhead Developer just checked in something that breaks something for everyone except him.
But ok, let's see, what would we need to actually implement your idea?
Hmm ... some kind of source code control system that makes branching by external participants easy. Oh wait, isn't that what Bazaar does? Oh wait, isn't that what Shuttleworth is pouring resources into?
Hmm ... then you'd need some kind of system to coordinate bugs between downstream and upstream. Oh wait? isn't that what Launchpad does? Isn't that what Shuttleworth is pouring resources into?
Oh, and what Aaron? You say you'd need to pick upstream projects that have predictable branching schemes? Oh, isn't that what GNOME does? And isn't that why Ubuntu went with Gnome from day one?
WTF dude. You can disagree all you want, but calling out people to start shit that they've been doing for years is nothing but jackass-ery my friend.