Adjusting the MariaDB Server release model

MariaDB Release Model

We changed our release model two years ago

A bit over two years ago, MariaDB Foundation and MariaDB plc jointly announced what we called our new Innovation Release Model. Since the end of 2021, we have gained experiences from it, some of which were aired by Sergei Golubchik last October in a MariaDB Unconference presentation called The Past, the Present and the Future of the MariaDB release model (a 23:05 long video).

We spoke about an emphasis on more frequent new features, and an increased engagement with the community through four yearly opportunities for contributors to see their code merged.

The benefits came at a cost

That part of the expectation did work out. But the benefits came at the (internal) cost of many more code merges, caused by the four early releases being maintained for a year. At the same time, we saw some user reluctance in using short-term supported releases in production. In turn, this makes the two year waiting period between long-term support releases seem long.

We are now taking two measures to fix this, which over time should solve both the merge cost issue and the waiting issue.

We are fixing the (external) waiting issue

First, we plan moving to a yearly LTS cycle. The next LTS will, in line with the current release schedule, will be MariaDB 11.7, which is scheduled for GA release in February 2025.

As a reminder, the current LTS is MariaDB 10.11.

We are fixing our (internal) merge cost issue

Second, we will stop doing GA bug fix releases within each minor version. The upcoming release of MariaDB 11.3.2 GA will be the last MariaDB 11.3 release. Each following MariaDB 11.x release before MariaDB 11.7 (11.4, 11.5 and 11.6) will have only two releases.

This means we will avoid the cost of merges for those releases. We are making the upgrade path as seamless as possible, so you can still use MariaDB 11 in production scenarios as before, as long as you are ready to accept new features along with the bug fixes for each upgrade.

The implications for our users, in short

  1. MariaDB 10.11 is currently the latest LTS (released 2023-02-16)
  2. MariaDB 11.7 will be the next LTS (to be released in Feb 2025)
  3. After that, we plan for the LTSes to be yearly
  4. For MariaDB 11.3 to 11.6, the last patch release will be 11.3.2 GA, 11.4.2 GA, 11.5.2 GA and 11.6.2 GA (emergency releases)
  5. Up until MariaDB 11.2 (released 2023-11-21), the short term support (bug fix duration) remains unchanged, one year (so there will be MariaDB 11.2.3, .4, .5, .6 and .7)
  6. The minor upgrades within the same major version, MariaDB 11, will be made easy (in particular, apt/dnf upgrade will work)

With this, we want to better use our resources through reducing our maintenance burden, thus indirectly benefiting our user base. This in turn will enable moving to yearly LTSes, which we believe to be a clear, direct benefit for our user base.