Monthly Archives: November 2015

Xen Project Contributor Training v2

Two weeks ago, I embarked onto a road trip to China with the aim to meet Xen Project users as well as contributors. I visited a number of vendors in Hangzhou and Beijing on this trip. Part of the objective was to give training to new contributors and developers, and to strengthen existing relationships.

Hypervisor contributions from Chinese developers

Hypervisor contributions from Chinese developers

A year ago I travelled to China and pioneered our developer training, because many of our Chinese developers had some challenges working with the community. The good news is that the training activities have helped, which can be seen in contribution statistics. This leads us to the “bad news”: a new group of developers joined the community, who could benefit from training. In addition, a lot of process and operational changes are currently discussed or have recently taken place within our community.

What is remarkable, is that many of the latest contributors to the project have only recently graduated from University (in 2014 or 2015). Working with the Xen Project and Linux was often their first experience with open source. Working with open source projects is not always easy, in particular when doing so in a non-native language and with a manager behind you, who expects that you get a feature into an open source project by a certain time. In addition, as a community we need to balance the needs of different stake-holders (enterprise, cloud, embedded, security companies) and make informed decisions on the relative importance of new features vs. quality vs. security vs. … which has led to increasingly strict criteria and more and more scrutiny, when reviewing code contributions. This means, that contributing to the project for the first time can sometimes feel like a real challenge. Part of the reason why I regularly travel to China, is to explain what is happening in the community, to explain that all members of the community can influence and shape how the project is run and to understand local community issues and address them as they occur.

Contributor Training v2

Since the creation of the training material last autumn, there have been a few changes in how the project operates. Most notably in the Security Vulnerability Management Process and Release Management. Many other areas of how the project operates are also being reviewed and discussed. The goals behind these discussions and proposed changes intend …

  • to make the communities’ development processes more efficient and scalable.
  • to make conscious decisions about trade-offs, such ease of feature contribution vs. quality and security.
  • to make it easier for newcomers to join the project.
  • to encourage more contributors to review other people’s code, test our software, write test code and make other non-code contributions to the project.

Thus, I updated our training material to reflect these changes and added new material. It is divided into 4 separate modules, each of which takes approximately 2.5 hours to deliver. The training decks are designed as reference material for self-study. Each training module has many examples and embedded links in it. The material is available from our Developer Intro Portal as slides or as PDFs. I embedded the updated and new training modules into this blog for your convenience:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask by contacting me via community dot manager at xenproject dot org and I will improve the material based on feedback. My plan is to keep the training material up-to-date and to modify it as new questions and new challenges arise.

Xen Project 4.7 Planning Opens

With Xen 4.6 released in October, we are already one month into the new cycle. Which means it is time to start planning for the next release. You may remember that one of the goals of the 4.6 release planning was to create smoother developer experience and to release Xen 4.6 on time. Both goals were achieved, so it was time to think where to go from here. Thus, the Xen community underwent a thorough discussion on how to manage future releases from xen-unstable and its impact on stable releases. The takeaway message of those lengthy threads is that we should continue to work on making the release cycle shorter and more predictable.

As such, the timeline for 4.7 is:

  • Development starts: October 13, 2015
  • Last posting date: March 18, 2016
  • Hard code freeze: April 1, 2016
  • Release date: June 3, 2016

After the 4.7 release, we will start to release Xen every 6 months: at the beginning of June and December. A regular 6 monthly release schedule has worked well for Ubuntu, OpenStack and many other projects. The idea behind it is a simple one: set a hard date and modify your goals to match that timeline. Which is also, why we dropped feature freeze exceptions, which create overheads and introduce unnecessary risk and debate. In addition, the new fixed release schedule will help open source projects and commercial vendors who consume Xen to plan their own releases better. And it allows us to set a schedule that ensures that every single release cycle is only affected by a single holiday period and that we have a Xen Project developer event (be it a Hackathon or Xen Project Developer Summit) during each release cycle. The stable release scheme is unchanged: 18 months full support, plus 18 months security fixes afterwards.

For more information, check out the slides that explain our release process and how it is changing for Xen 4.7 and beyond. To follow the roadmap in the coming months, be sure to check the Xen 4.7 Roadmap page on our wiki. Get involved on xen-devel@ and happy hacking!

For more updates, follow @XenProject.org on Twitter.

Xen Project 4.5.2 Maintenance Release Available

I am pleased to announce the release of Xen 4.5.2. Xen Project Maintenance releases are released roughly every 4 months, in line with our Maintenance Release Policy. We recommend that all users of the 4.5 stable series update to this point release.

Xen 4.5.2 is available immediately from its git repository:

    xenbits.xenproject.org/gitweb/?p=xen.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/stable-4.5
    (tag RELEASE-4.5.2)

or from the Xen Project download page at www.xenproject.org/downloads/xen-archives/xen-45-series/xen-452.html.

This release contains many bug fixes and improvements. For a complete list of changes in this release, please check lists of changes on the download page.