UBOS build and release process

Channels and promotions

The following diagram shows the UBOS build and release process graphically:


UBOS is a derivative of Arch Linux. As the Arch Linux project releases new packages, the subset relevant to UBOS is staged in the UBOS dev channel. We do this for each architecture, including x86_64, armv6, armv7 and so forth.

Other packages that are part of UBOS but not (currently) part of Arch Linux, are also staged in the dev channel. This includes:

  • administrative packages, such as ubos-admin;
  • application packages, such as gladiwashere.

The UBOS team then tests the packages in the dev channel. This is the only intended use of the dev channel; application developers and users should never directly interact with the dev channel.

When the packages in the dev channel have passed certain tests and are considered to be sufficiently stable, they are accepted into the UBOS red channel.

The red channel is only used by developers, not end users, and can be compared to traditional “alpha”-quality software. Application developers use the red channel to make sure their applications continue to work with upcoming UBOS upgrades.

When the packages on the red channel is sufficiently stable and Apps on the red channel pass their automated tests, the packages on the red channel are promoted to the yellow channel.

The yellow channel is similar to traditional “beta”-quality software, and is typically used both by developers and friendly end users.

Once the yellow channel is sufficiently stable, the packages will be promoted to the green, aka production channel, where they become generally available to all UBOS users. As UBOS is currently in beta, no releases have been made to the green channel yet.

This table shows the approximate update schedule:

Approximate channel update schedule
dev channel as often as several times a day, depending on development focus
dev to red channel as often as several times a week, depending on development focus
red to yellow channel once a month or couple of months
yellow to green channel following the red to yellow promotion with some time lag for testing

Updates may be performed more frequently, for example for emergency bug fixes or security patches. Images may be generated less frequently, as repeated downloads are time-consuming and expensive, and installations can be easily brought to the current version with:

% ubos-admin update

When may packages be held back?

Packages may generally be held back from promotion to the next channel if it is known, or suspected, that either the package is insufficiently stable for the next channel, that the upgrade process may not be reliable enough yet, or that other packages will break as a consequence of the upgrade.

For example, when the Apache web server became available in version 2.4, several keywords and configuration settings changed from 2.2. Most notably, the Allow from syntax became unavailable; if any Apps used that syntax, Apache would refuse to start. While this move from Apache 2.2 to 2.4 predates the UBOS release process and thus UBOS was not affected, it is a great example for under which circumstances packages may be held back.

Similarly, major new versions of applications are generally held at red or yellow for some time until they are promoted to green. This is the UBOS equivalent to a “beta period”.