1.7.  String freezes and the Debian Installer release process

Debian Installer is managed by a team of developers. The release of the installer involves the releases of all packages which are part of it.

Debian Installer releases are managed by the Debian Installer release manager. Periodically, a release plan is built in order to publish a stable release of the installer from the source of packages which are in the archive.

Outside release processes, the Debian Installer packages are work in progress which means that the strings they contain are likely to change.

As a consequence, translators may choose to halt their work during high development activity periods, and thus get their translation statistics (see Section 6.1, “Translation status pages”) slowly decreasing as long as packages are changed. Another work method uses a regular survey of translation statistics pages with immediate updates when the material gets outdated.

Both methods are accepted by the Debian Installer development team as long as languages reach back 100% translation for releases. Debian Installer i18n coordinators tend to favor the constant update method because the massive update method never guarantees that translators for a given language are still active.

The constant update method is also the only one that give enough time to translation teams for doing peer review of their translation work.

All releases plans include a string freeze period. This time period is quite short and usually lasts a few days (4-6) possibly including a week-end. A string freeze means that Debian Installer package maintainers must not change the strings in packages maintained by the Debian Installer team. As such, a string freeze guarantees translators that they can work safely without fearing to see their work dropped away because of a last minute change.

Translators should be aware that string freezes always have exceptions. In rare occasions, when important bugs are discovered which require updates to English strings, they are changed even during the string freeze. However, such changes are always made with the agreement of the release manager and the Debian Installer i18n coordinators. In such case, translators are warned in the mailing list about the change. So, during string freezes, translators should carefully check their mailboxes, or watch the status pages regularly.

String freezes are only relevant for level 1 translations, base-config and tasksel. Other level 2 and all other levels packages above packages may get updates while Debian Installer packages are frozen. In most cases, however, their maintainers are aware of the Debian Installer release process and try to avoid last minute changes.