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Introduction

This document describes the general release policies used by the Apache HTTP Server Project to create releases of httpd-2.2 (the current Apache 2.2 branch). Aside from the voting guidelines, this policy may be adjusted by the Release Manager.

With the introduction of Apache 2.1, the Apache httpd project has adopted an odd-even release strategy, where development happens with alpha and beta releases assigned an odd-numbered minor version, and its general availability (stable) release is designed with the subsequent even-numbered minor version. E.g. 2.1.0-alpha through 2.1.6-alpha were followed by 2.1.7-beta through 2.1.9 beta, and cumulated in the 2.2.0 general availability release.

Who can make a release?

Technically, anyone can make a release of the source code due to the Apache Software License. However, only members of the Apache HTTP Server Project (committers) can make a release designated as Apache HTTP Server (httpd). Other people must call their release something other than "Apache" unless they obtain written permission from the Apache Software Foundation.

Following our official release policies, we will only accept release binaries from members of the Apache HTTP Server Project for inclusion on our website. This ensures that our binaries can be supported by members of the project. Other people are free to make binaries, but we will not post them on our website.

Who is in charge of a release?

The release is coordinated by a Release Manager (hereafter, abbreviated as RM). Since this job requires trust, coordination of the development community, and access to subversion, only committers to the project can be RM. However, there is no set RM, and more than one RM can be active at a time. Any committer may create a release candidate, provided that it is based on a releasable (non-vetoed) tag of our current subversion repository corresponding to the target version number. In order to facilitate communication, it is deemed nice to alert the community to your planned release schedule before creating the release candidate, since some other folks may be on the verge of committing an important change (or backing out an error). A release candidate should only be made when there is an intention to propose it for a vote on public release. There are no "private" releases at Apache.

Who may make a good candidate for an RM?

Someone with lots of time to kill. Being an RM is a very important job in our community because it takes a fair amount of time to produce a stable release. If you feel lucky, a release could be distributed without testing, but our experience has shown that this leads to a higher number of dud releases. In general, our experience has shown that a well-coordinated release fares better than non-coordinated releases. In all cases, three +1 votes, and more +1 than -1 votes from PMC members are required for a release candidate to be designated as a release.

When do I know if it is a good time to release?

Generally speaking, when some useful changes have been applied since the last release and there are no showstoppers left to be resolved. It is our convention to indicate showstoppers in the STATUS file in the repository. A showstopper entry does not imply that a release cannot be made -- it is more of an indication of current project consensus and a reminder of what fixes are on the critical path. Each RM gets to choose when to cut a release candidate based on the current content of subversion. The entire PMC gets to decide whether or not that candidate deserves to be released.

An item being denoted in STATUS as a showstopper indicates that someone believes the issue must be resolved before the next release, and the RM is going to hold off until it is resolved or moved out of the showstopper category. These items may be bugs, outstanding vetos that have not yet been resolved, or enhancements that must make it into the release. Note that the RM may also add showstopper entries to indicate what issues must be resolved before they personally are willing to cut a release candidate, though they cannot prevent others from taking on the RM job and proposing a release candidate of their own.

What power does the RM yield?

The only power held by the RM is the right to determine when the current content of subversion is worth their own effort in cutting a release candidate. The only thing the RM has authority over is the building of a source package, based on the contents of our subversion, that can then be put up for vote. They can decide what snapshot revision to tag for a candidate. They can decide to branch early and build candidates based on the branch rather than a more active development tree, but they cannot prevent others from working on that branch as well. They can also decide not to build anything at all. They can do all sorts of organizational support, advocacy, pleading, or whatever in order to encourage the rest of the project committers to apply changes, test the candidate, vote for things under issue, etc.

The RM is not a dictator (benevolent or not). They do not have the right to pick apart or select any variation of the product they might like to release: it has to be a specific tag or revision (moment in time) that is present in our subversion and applicable to the version number targeted for the release. If there is something they don't like in the tree, then they have the same right as other PMC members to change or veto that code first, make the change to subversion, and then build the release candidate. Likewise, the RM cannot include in the candidate any change that has been vetoed by others, and their candidate cannot be released if it contains any changes that have been vetoed since it was built. The RM has the right to kill their own candidate if they learn something during the release process that they think, for whatever reason, causes the build to be unreleasable. But the RM can't stop anyone else on the PMC from taking the same candidate and calling for its release under their own management as RM.

How can an RM be confident in a release?

The RM may perform sanity checks on release candidates. One highly recommended suggestion is to run the httpd-test suite against the candidate. The release candidate should pass all of the relevant tests before making it official, and certainly avoid new regressions (tests that previously passed, and now fail).

Another good idea is to coordinate running a candidate on apache.org for a period of time. This will require coordination with the infrastructure team. In the past, the group has liked to see approximately 48-72 hours of usage in production to certify that the release is functional in the real world. Note that some committers may choose to not vote on a release until feedback has been gathered from the apache.org instance running the release. This is not a requirement (each committer is free to come up with their own personal voting guidelines), but it produces a feeling of confidence in the release that it will not be a dud.

How to do a release?

Once the tree has been suitably tested by the RM and any other interested parties, they should "roll" a candidate tarball for potential release.

Key points:

  1. Ensure the Copyright date reflects the current year in the NOTICE, docs/manual/style/latex/latex.xsl, and docs/manual/style/xsl/common.xsl files.

  2. Execute ./build.sh all convmap to ensure that the documentation transformations are up to date.

  3. Ensure that the RM's PGP/GPG key is in the httpd-dist/KEYS file.

  4. Set AP_SERVER_DEVBUILD_BOOLEAN to 0 in include/ap_release.h.

  5. Create an official X.Y.Z tag based on the candidate tree.

  6. Revert the change to include/ap_release.h setting AP_SERVER_DEVBUILD_BOOLEAN back to 1, and bump AP_SERVER_PATCHLEVEL_NUMBER

  7. Bump ENTITY httpd.patch in docs/manual/style/version.ent.

  8. Add the corresponding version placeholder in CHANGES.

  9. Note the tag date in the STATUS file.

  10. Run the svn.apache.org/repos/asf/httpd/site/trunk/tools/release.sh script.

  11. Commit the generated release tarballs and signatures to the subversion https://dist.apache.org/repos/dist/dev/httpd/ repository.

  12. Email dev@httpd.apache.org with a [VOTE] Release X.Y.Z to call for testing and votes on this candidate.

What can I call this release?

At this point, this tarball/archive is not yet a release.

Based on the communities confidence in the code, the next step is to issue a release vote as alpha, beta or general availability (GA) candidate. The Apache HTTP Server Project has three classifications for its releases:

Alpha indicates that the release is not meant for mainstream usage or may have serious problems that prohibits its use. The initial releases off of the x.{odd}.z development branches are considered alpha quality.

Beta indicates that the x.{odd}.z development branch is nearing completion and will soon ship as a x.{even}.0 GA release. This indicates that it is expected to compile and perform basic tasks. However, there may be problems with this release that inhibit its widespread adoption.

General Availability (GA) indicates that this release is the best available version and is recommended for all usage. It also indicates that this release replaces all previous GA versions, and it's interfaces should remain stable throughout the life of this x.y version. (Those interfaces that are in flux are designated experimental.)

Finally, remember version numbers are cheap. If x.y.13 is retracted due to a flaw or prior veto or simply because of 'one more change' to add to this next release, then the RM should designate x.y.14. Don't attempt to overload an earlier tarball with additional changes, simply keep moving.

Who can vote?

For the ASF to release the candidate tarball/archive, at least three project members must vote affirmatively for release, and there must be more positive than negative votes for the release. There is no 'veto' to a release vote. A previous veto of specific code can and should be called out to the RM if it was mistakenly included. A new tarball release candidate should be rolled without the offending code if this is the case.

Non-committers may cast a vote for a release's quality. In fact, this is extremely encouraged as it provides much-needed feedback to the community about the release's quality. However, only binding votes cast by PMC members count towards the designation.

Finally, note that votes are on source code tarballs, and only the source code is authoritative. Binaries, while helpful, are considered other artifacts and must be generated from the exact source code contained in the release. If a patch is unavoidable for a specific platform, the applicable patches MUST be made available alongside the platform binaries.

How do we make it public?

Once the release has reached the highest-available designation (as deemed by the RM), the release can be moved to the httpd distribution directory on apache.org. The release tarballs and signatures can be svn mv'ed from the https://dist.apache.org/repos/dist/dev/httpd/ repository across to the https://dist.apache.org/repos/dist/release/httpd/ repository. In that release tree are also the patches/, subproject/ and binaries/ distribution trees.

It should be ensured that the release is also added to Bugzilla by sending a mail to dev@httpd.apache.org requesting the same. The request is picked up there by one of the project members with Bugzilla administrator permissions and the release is added to Bugzilla. Also do not forget to bump the version number in the projects doap file ( httpd/site/trunk/docs/doap.rdf ). Approximately 24 to 48 hours after the files have been moved, a public announcement can be made. We wait this period so that the mirrors can receive the new release before the announcement. An email can then be sent to the announcements lists (announce@apache.org, announce@httpd.apache.org). Drafts of the announcement are usually posted on the development list before sending the announcement to let the community clarify any issues that we feel should be addressed in the announcement.

Should the announcement wait for binaries?

In short, no. The only files that are required for a public release are the source tarballs (.tar.Z,.tar.gz). Volunteers can provide the Win32 source distribution and binaries, and other esoteric binaries.

Note that the typical Win32 source distribution differs from the original tarball in that it has generated project files as well as the CRLF line endings required for that platform. More information can be found here.

Oops. We found a problem.

At this point, the release has been created. No code changes can be made in this release. If a problem is found, it will have to be addressed in the next release or a patch can be made available. No changes can be made between alpha, beta, and GA status. The only difference is the file name that is downloaded by the users. If an alpha tarball is created, but there was an error that can be resolved by re-rolling the tarball, it may be permissible to re-roll the release. But, the code itself maynotchange from designation to designation.

There are two courses of action:

Revoke the release and immediately create another one that has a fix to this problem. You can take the old release, apply the single patch, and start the voting process again. This is only recommended for critical problems found early on in the release cycle.

If the problem is less severe, place the patch to the problem in the /dist/httpd/patches/apply_to_X.Y.Z directory. A link to this directory should be included in the release notes with descriptions as to what problem each patch addresses.

Suggestions?

As always, if you have any suggestions or comments on our process, please feel free to email our developer mailing list with your comments. We hope you found this document useful.