Adopting the Schedule-Driven Release Process for Thunderbird

Mark Banner mbanner at
Thu Apr 14 08:20:21 UTC 2011

The Firefox team is currently moving to a schedule driven 
release process, this has various implications for Thunderbird development.

There are two options that the Thunderbird drivers have considered:

  * Adopt a new process that is schedule driven and follows the Firefox
    process of being able to release every six weeks (even if we don't
    release every six weeks).
      o The advantages here are that we (have the option to) keep users
        up to date with the current gecko versions and security releases.
      o It'll also mean we can get out more significant improvements to
        the users on a cycle which the current security and stability
        releases don't allow.
      o We recognize that there are disadvantages, too. For instance,
        binary extensions will need to be rebuilt for each release.
      o In their document, Firefox have highlighted some of the issues
        around extensions and we will be working on picking up what
        Firefox is doing to alleviate those issues.
  * Maintain the current Thunderbird release model and maintain old
    releases for a period of time after the current release.
      o The significant issue here is that back-porting security fixes
        from Firefox will require extra work, which doesn't help to
        advance Thunderbird. Back-portingmay be additionally complex if
        the original patch writers are not available to help us.

The Thunderbird drivers have decided to adopt the new schedule driven 
process. We believe that it will be better overall for Thunderbird 
development and for our users.

We realise that this change may not suit all enterprise situations, 
however we feel that we need to move forward with Thunderbird 
development, and back-porting would slow development down. We suggest 
that enterprises use the tb-enterprise email list 
<> for discussion if 
this plan will affect them.

We are currently thinking about how to manage our release processes wrt 
the new Firefox branches and hope to have more information out in the 
next few days.

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