I’m the release engineer in charge for Precise Alpha 1 which is currently being prepared. I must say, this has been a real joy! The fruits of the new QA paradigm and strategy and the new Stable+1 maintenance team have already achieved remarkable results:

  • The archive consistency reports like component-mismatches, uninstallability, etc. now appear about 20 minutes earlier than in oneiric.
  • CD image builds can now happen 30 minutes earlier after the publisher start, and are much quicker now due to moving to newer machines. We can now build an i386 or amd64 CD image in 8 minutes! Currently they still need to wait for the slow powerpc buildd, but moving to a faster machine there is in progress. These improvements lead to much faster image rebuild turnarounds.
  • Candidate CDs now get automatically posted to the new ISO tracker as soon as they appear.
  • Whenever a new Ubuntu image is built (daily or candidate), they automatically get smoke-tested, so we know that the installer works under some standard scenarios and produces an install which actually boots.
  • Due to the new discipline and the stable+1 team, we had working daily ISOs pretty much every day. In previous Alphas, the release engineer(s) pretty much had to work fulltime for a day or two to fix the worst uninstallability etc., all of this now went away.

All this meant that as a release engineer almost all of the hectic and rather dull work like watching for finished ISO builds and posting them or getting the archive into a releasable state completely went away. We only had to decide when it was a good time for building a set of candidate images, and trigger them, which is just copy&pasting some standard commands.

So I could fully concentrate on the interesting bits like actually investigating and debugging bug reports and regressions. As the Law of Conservation of Breakage dictates, taking away work from the button pushing side just caused the actual bugs to be much harder and earned us e. g. this little gem which took Jean-Baptiste, Andy, and me days to even reproduce properly, and will take much more to debug and fix.

In summary, I want to say a huge “Thank you!” to the Canonical QA team, in particular Jean-Baptiste Lallement for setting up the auto-testing and Jenkins integration, and the stable+1 team (Colin Watson, Mike Terry, and Mathieu Trudel-Lapierre in November) for keeping the archive in such excellent shape and improving our tools!