Here’s some additional background for why the upgrade to GNOME 41 was difficult to get into Ubuntu 21.10.
- Debian 11 “Bullseye” was released Saturday, August 14.
- Source packages for GNOME 41 Beta were supposed to be complete by August 14 (but GNOME Shell wasn’t released until August 17 and GNOME Settings Daemon wasn’t released until August 28).
- Ubuntu 21.10 Feature Freeze was Thursday, August 19.
Ubuntu and Debian both benefit a lot by handling most of the GNOME packaging in Debian directly.
Until Debian’s release, Debian Testing was frozen. During the Freeze, major changes are discouraged from upload to Debian Unstable. The Freeze started months ago and happens every 2 years in preparation for new major stable releases of Debian.
Debian has one staging area beyond Unstable called Experimental.
Normally, there are several months after a major GNOME release for packages to be pushed to Unstable and Testing (with staging in Experimental where necessary or for packaging alpha or beta releases).
So on August 15, Debian Experimental was filled with GNOME 40 packaging. Over the following days, many of these packages were pushed to Unstable. But several packages still can’t be pushed to Unstable yet because they involve transitions where several packages must be upgraded simultaneously and those transitions are waiting on either approval from the Debian Release Team or coordination with Debian developers outside the Debian GNOME team.
If we had pushed GNOME 41 to experimental the week of August 15, it would have delayed Debian Unstable and Testing from getting GNOME 40. They would have likely had to wait for GNOME 41 to be ready later in September.
So, there were only a few days to prepare the packaging. The new packaging would have delayed Debian Unstable and Testing users from getting a new GNOME release for weeks. Or our shared packaging would have been much more difficult to manage.
Even without the Debian Freeze, it is stressful and time-consuming to attempt to package a complete major GNOME upgrade in a few days. While Canonical employees mostly work during the week, Debian and Ubuntu volunteers often do their packaging on evenings or weekends.
(It looks like the 21.10 Release Cycle was one week faster than 20.10’s last year.)
I am estimating that the current schedules provide about a week and a half between GNOME 42 Beta and Ubuntu 22.04 Feature Freeze. In the future, I think we need at least that amount of time to complete the packaging, smoketesting, and critical integration work. If a future Feature Freeze date is too early, maybe we could ask for a Feature Freeze Extension in advance.