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OpenLDAP Project Release Maintenance Policy

Updated: Feb 25


Introduction


The OpenLDAP Project recently adopted a new release strategy that is more

friendly to the needs of the communities that are using its software. The new

strategy provides for both a stable long-term release and for a series of

shorter-term releases that add new features at the expense of more frequent

and sometimes disruptive upgrades.


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Overview


The OpenLDAP Project has adopted a two-stream release model consisting of a

Long Term Support (LTS) release and multiple Feature Releases. To start,

OpenLDAP 2.5 will serve as a stable long term base and OpenLDAP 2.6 and

later releases will build on that with new features. This means a change to

the Project's single-stream model in which only the current release and one

previous release are supported. Instead, the Project will support the current

LTS Release and the current Feature Release with some limited overlaps. This

allows users to choose whether they want rock-solid set-it-forget-it stability

with only patch fixes or to stay at the head of the feature stream in a

supported release. Periodically the Project will promote a Feature Release to

an LTS Release and the cycle will start all over again.


The Project will continue to use the major.minor.patch release number format.


LTS Releases


The LTS release stream is intended for deployments that prioritize stability

over features. A particular LTS release stream is identified by a specific

major and a minor release number (e.g., 2.5) and starts at some non-zero

patch number, reflecting the point at which the Project deems it ready to

serve in an LTS capacity. The patch number increments monotonically with each

patch release to indicate the sequence number of the release within that LTS

release stream. Patch releases occur approximately four times a year and are

restricted to stability, operation, and security fixes. A given LTS release

stream is expected to have a life span of approximately five years. When the

current LTS release is approximately three years old, the Project will name

the new LTS release and will start a two-year end-of-life countdown for the

current LTS release. During this period, the Project will fix defects in both

LTS releases, but may only apply the most critical patches to the LTS release

that is in its end of life stage. Users are encouraged to develop a plan that

will help them upgrade quickly to the new LTS release so that they remain

on a supported release.


A few other details about LTS releases:


* Replication WILL work between patch releases of the same LTS release

stream. It SHOULD work with releases in other LTS or feature release

streams.

* Databases and configuration files will be usable in binary form with

new patch releases without modification, but do not need to be

compatible with older patch releases.

* LTS releases are feature-frozen. If a user needs to use a feature not

in an LTS release they'll need to migrate from the LTS release stream

to the feature release stream, accepting the terms of support for the

release stream.


Feature Releases


The Feature Release stream is intended for deployments that need to stay

abreast of feature and performance enhancements and can tolerate potentially

disruptive upgrade cycles every twelve to eighteen months. A feature release

is designated by an incremented minor release number (e.g., 2.6 changes to 2.7)

and is the primary avenue by which new features are introduced to the supported

OpenLDAP release stream. As with LTS releases, the patch number indicates the

sequence number within the particular feature release (e.g., 2.7.1, 2.7.2, etc).

The Project will apply fixes to the next patch release (e.g., 2.7.3) OR to the

next feature release (e.g., 2.8.0), depending on the timing of the Feature

Release. Additionally, the Project will apply bug fixes to the current LTS

release as appropriate. There will be a brief period during which patches will

be applied to both the outgoing and incoming feature releases to allow users

to upgrade their deployments.


A few other details about Feature Releases:


* Replication between various feature releases and LTS releases SHOULD

work, but is not required.

* Database and configuration files SHOULD remain usable in unmodified

forms with new feature releases, but it's not required.

* The feature release stream will add features and improve performance

more frequently than will the LTS release stream. While it will be

supported and defects corrected as they come up, the rules are

significantly different and users following this stream should be

ready to invest more effort in staying current.

* Bug fixes are ported to the current LTS release as deemed appropriate.


The Project will produce feature releases at a rate of approximately one every

twelve to eighteen months. These releases gather new features developed over

the course of the year into a single supported release. Periodically the

Project will designate a Feature Release as the new LTS release, and provide a

two-year support overlap of the two LTS releases. During the last year of

support for the earlier LTS release, only critical bugs will be fixed.


The Project has designated OpenLDAP 2.5 as the first LTS release and

OpenLDAP 2.6 as the first feature release. This feature release will be

followed in about a year by the next feature release, OpenLDAP 2.7.


Updates to the website (download page, etc) corresponding to the new policy

have not yet been made but will be coming shortly. This policy supersedes the

old policy described here.

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