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The Apache HTTP Server project must balance two competing and disjoint
objectives: maintain stable code for third party authors, distributors and
most importantly users so that bug and security fixes can be quickly adopted
without significant hardship due to user-visible changes; and continue the
development process that requires ongoing redesign to correct earlier
oversights and to add additional features.
The Apache HTTP Server, through version 2.0, used the Module Magic Number (MMN)
to reflect API changes. This had the shortcoming of often leaving users
hunting to replace binary third party modules that were now incompatible.
This also left module authors searching through the API change histories to
determine the exact cause for the MMN change and whether their module was
With the simultaneous release of Apache 2.2-stable and Apache 2.3-development,
the Apache HTTP Server project is moving towards a more predictable stable
release cycle, while allowing forward progress to occur without concern
for breaking the stable branch. This document explains the rationale between
the two versions and their behavior.
STABLE RELEASES, 2.{even}.{revision}
All even numbered releases will be considered stable revisions.
Stable revisions will retain forward compatiblity to the maximum
possible extent. Features may be added during minor revisions, and
features may be deprecated by making appropriate notations in the
documentation, but no features may be removed.
In essence, that implies that you can upgrade from one minor revision
to the next with a minimum of trouble. In particular, this means:
* The Module API will retain forward compatibility.
It will not be necessary to update modules to work with new
revisions of the stable tree.
* The run-time configuration will be forward compatible.
No configuration changes will be necessary to work with new
revisions of the stable tree.
* Compile-time configuration will be forward compatible.
The configure command line options that work in one release
of the stable tree will also work in the next release.
As always, it will be necessary to test any new release to assure
that it works correctly with a particular configuration and a
particular set of modules, but every effort will be made to assure
that upgrades are as smooth as possible.
In addition, the following development restrictions will aid in
keeping the stable tree as safe as possible:
* No 'Experimental' modules; while it may be possible (based on API changes
required to support a given module) to load a 2.3-development module into
a 2.2-stable build of Apache, there are no guarantees. Experimental
modules will be introduced to the 2.3-development versions and either
added to 2.2-stable once they are proven and compatible, or deferred
to the 2.4-stable release if they cannot be incorporated in the current
stable release due to API change requirements.
* The stable subversion tree should not remain unstable at any time. Atomic
commits ought be used to introduce code from the development version to the
stable tree. At any given time a security release may be in preparation,
unbeknownst to other contributors. At any given time, testers may be
checking out SVN trunk to confirm that a bug has been corrected. And as
all code was well-tested in development prior to committing to the stable
tree, there is really no reason for this tree to be broken for more than
a few minutes during a lengthy commit.
In order to avoid 'skipped' release numbers in the stable releases, the
Release Manager will generally roll a release candidate (APACHE_#_#_#_RC#)
tag. Release Candidate tarballs will be announced to the for the stable tree. Then, the participants
will vote on the quality of the proposed release tarball.
The final APACHE_#_#_# tag will not exist until the APACHE_#_#_#_RC# candidate
has passed the usual votes to release that version. Only then is the final
tarball packaged, removing all -rc# designations from the version number, and
tagging the tree with the release number.
DEVELOPMENT RELEASES, 2.{odd}.{revision}
All odd numbered releases designate the 'next' possible stable release,
therefore the current development version will always be one greater than
the current stable release. Work proceeds on development releases, permitting
the modification of the MMN at any time in order to correct deficiencies
or shortcomings in the API. This means that modules from one development
release to another may not be binary compatible, or may not successfully
compile without modification to accomodate the API changes.
The only 'supported' development release at any time will be the most
recently released version. Developers will not be answering bug reports
of older development releases once a new release is available. It becomes
the resposibility of the reporter to use the latest development version
to confirm that any issue still exists.
Any new code, new API features or new ('experimental') modules may be
promoted at any time to the next stable release, by a vote of the project
contributors. This vote is based on the technical stability of the new
code and the stability of the interface. Once moved to stable, that feature
cannot change for the remainder of that stable release cycle, so the vote must
reflect that the final decisions on the behavior and naming of that new
feature were reached. Vetos continue to apply to this choice of introducing
the new work to the stable version.
At any given time, when the quality of changes to the development branch
is considered release quality, that version may become a candidate for the
next stable release. This includes some or all of the API changes, promoting
experimental modules to stable or deprecating and eliminating older modules
from the last stable release. All of these choices are considered by the
project as a group in the interests of promoting the stable release, so that
any given change may be 'deferred' for a future release by the group, rather
than introduce unacceptable risks to adopting the next stable release.
Third party module authors are strongly encouraged to test with the latest
development version. This assures that the module will be ready for the next
stable release, but more importantly, the author can react to shortcomings
in the API early enough to warn the community of the
shortcomings so that they can be addressed before the stable release. The
entire burden is on the module author to anticipate the needs of their module
before the stable release is created. Once a new stable release cycle has
begun, that API will be present for the lifetime of the stable release. Any
desired changes in the stable versions must wait for inclusion into the next
release cycle.
When deciding to promote a development tree to being stable, a determination
should be made whether the changes since the last stable version warrant a
major version bump. That is, if 2.2 is the current stable version and 2.3 is
'ready' to become stable, the group needs to decide if the next stable
version is 2.4 or 3.0. One suggested rule of thumb is that if it requires
too much effort to port a module from 2.2 to 2.4, then the stable version
should be labeled 3.0.
In order to ease the burden of creating development releases, the process
for packaging a development releases is less formal than for the stable
release. This strategy reflects the fact that while in development, versions
are cheap. Development releases may be classified as alpha, beta, or GA
to reflect the group's perceived stability of the tree. Development releases
may be made at any time by any committer.
Please read the following link for a more detailed description of the
development release strategy:
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