Subject: Re: What is a snapshot?
To: None <current-users@NetBSD.ORG>
From: John F. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/10/1997 01:11:59
Erik Fair asks:
> A question: what is a snapshot? Is it:
> 1. build of the day (alpha or "developer")?
> 2. a slightly vetted build of the day (a beta)?
> 3. a less than completely formal point release (a beta)?
> NetBSD does formal releases rather infrequently. The snapshots sort of fill
> the gap. But even they're a bit infrequent, principally because the people
> responsible for them seem to see them as #3.
> I'd rather see us have snapshots made available on a daily basis (or at
> least every day that the tree builds successfully). "current" is already
> understood to be "unsupported, you'd better know what you're doing" - why
> not the snapshots too?

The effort of doing a full build and packaging up a snapshot seems like a
lot to do every single day (I don't think my system could actually FINISH
it in a single day, in fact), and if someone is going to pull down megabytes
of precompiled binaries for installation, they'd probably like to have some
kind of hope that they'll actually run.

I think installable snapshots are most useful if they are at least slightly
vetted builds.  One potential goal for the developers to strive for might
be to have a weekly snapshot which is a best-guess at stable, if not entirely
perfect; for example, foreswear functional checkins from Thursday night to
Saturday morning (spending Friday fixing any goofs from the week) and have
a Saturday morning snapshot that is believed to "probably" work (yes, I know
all too well how easy it is to check in something that obviously is correct,
only to have it fall completely apart for reasons that I didn't see coming
but SHOULD have...).  Now, that kind of regular schedule doesn't necessarily
fit in with the realities of volunteer labor (if Friday night is the only
night that Real Life[TM] doesn't have other requirements, Friday night is the
only night you'll check in changes, schedule or no), thus it might not be
practical, but something like that might even make the development process
a little smoother.

Developers who want a Build Of The Day on tap every day can build it themselves
(yet they'll probably want to start with a close-to-guaranteed stable install
so they *can* successfully build); users who want to alpha-test cutting edge
technology without having to compile it still need to be able to trust it
enough to risk an entire install.