coreboot Release Process

This document describes our release process and all prerequisites to implement it successfully.

Purpose of coreboot releases

Our releases aren’t primarily a vehicle for code that is stable across all boards: The logistics of testing the more than 100 boards that are spread out all continents (except Antarctica, probably) on a given tree state are prohibitive for project of our size.

Instead, the releases are regular breakpoints that serve multiple purposes: They support cooperation between multiple groups (corporations or otherwise) in that it’s easier to keep source trees synchronized based on a limited set of commits. They allow a quick assessment of the age of any given build or source tree based on its git version (4.8-1234 was merged into master a few months after 4.8, which came out in April 2018. 4.0-21718’s age is harder to guess).

And finally we use releases to as points in time where we remove old code: Once we decide that a certain part of coreboot gets in the way of future development, we announce on the next release that we intend to remove that part - and everything that depends on it - after the following release. So removing feature FOO will be announced in release X for release X+1. The first commit after X+1 is fair game for such removal.

Together with our 6 months release horizon, this provides time to plan any migrations necessary to keep older boards in the tree by bringing them up to current standards.

Needed credentials & authorizations

  • Website access is required to post the release files to the website.
  • IRC admin access is required to update the topic.
  • Git access rights are needed to post the tag.
  • Blog post access is needed to do the blog post.
  • A PGP key is required to sign the release tarballs and git tag.

This set of required credentials implies that releases can only be done by a coreboot admin.

When to release

Releases are done roughly on a 6-month schedule, ideally around end of April and end of October (can be a bit earlier or delay into May or November).

We initially followed a 3 month release schedule, but we found that to be more frequent than was needed, so we scaled it back to twice a year.

Checklist

~2 weeks prior to release

  • [ ] Announce upcoming release to mailing list, ask people to test and to update release notes

~1 week prior to release

  • [ ] Send reminder email to mailing list, ask for people to test, and to update the release notes
  • [ ] Update the topic in the irc channel with the date of the upcoming release

Day of release

  • [ ] Update release notes, without specifying release commit ids
  • [ ] Select a commit ID to base the release upon, announce to IRC, ask for testing.
  • [ ] Test the commit selected for release
  • [ ] Run release script
  • [ ] Test the release from the actual release tarballs
  • [ ] Push signed Tag to repo
  • [ ] Announce that the release tag is done on IRC
  • [ ] Update release notes with actual commit id, push to repo
  • [ ] Upload release files to web server
  • [ ] Upload crossgcc sources to web server
  • [ ] Update download page to point to files, push to repo
  • [ ] Write and publish blog post with release notes.
  • [ ] Update the topic in the irc channel that the release is done.

Pre-Release tasks

Announce the upcoming release to the mailing list release 2 weeks ahead of the planned release date.

The announcement should state the planned release date, point to the release notes that are in the making and ask people to test the hardware they have to make sure it’s working with the current master branch, from which the release will ultimately be derived from.

People should also be encouraged to provide additions to the release notes, for example by putting them on some collaborative editor.

The final release notes will reside in coreboot’s Documentation/releases directory, so asking for additions to that through the regular Gerrit process works as well. Note that git requires lots of conflict resolution on heavily edited text files though.

Frequently, we will want to wait until particular things are in the release. Once those are in, you can select the commit ID that you want to use for your release. For the 4.6 release, we waited until we had time to do the release, then pulled in a few patches that we wanted to have in the release. The release was based on the final of those patches to be pulled in.

When a release candidate has been selected, announce the commit ID to the #coreboot irc channel, and request that it get some testing, just to make sure that everything is sane.

Generate the release

After the commit for the release has been selected and verified, run the release script - util/release/build-release. This will download a new tree, checkout the commit that you specified, download the submodules, create a tag, then generate and sign the tarballs.

Be prepared to type in your PGP key’s passphrase.

usage: util/release/build-release <version> [commit id] [username] [gpg key id]
Tags a new coreboot version and creates a tar archive

version:    New version name to tag the tree with
commit id:  check out this commit-id after cloning the coreboot tree
username:   clone the tree using ssh://USERNAME - defaults to https://
gpg key id: used to tag the version, and generate a gpg signature

After running the script, you should have a new directory for the release, along with 4 files - 2 tarballs, and 2 signature files.

drwxr-xr-x   9 martin martin      4096 Apr 30 19:57 coreboot-4.6
-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin  29156788 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-4.6.tar.xz
-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin       836 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-4.6.tar.xz.sig
-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin   5902076 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-blobs-4.6.tar.xz
-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin       836 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-blobs-4.6.tar.xz.sig

Here’s the command that was used to generate the 4.6 release:

% util/release/build-release 4.6 db508565 Gaumless 3E4F7DF7

Test the release from the tarballs

  • Run “make what-jenkins-does” and verify that everything is building.

  • Build and test qemu

    cp configs/config.emulation_qemu_x86_i440fx .config; make olddefconfig; make
    qemu-system-x86_64 -bios build/coreboot.rom -serial stdio
    
  • Build and test any other platforms you can.

  • Compare the directory from the tarballs to the coreboot repo to make sure nothing went wrong.

  • Push the tag to git

A good tag will look like this:

% git show 4.6
tag 4.6
Tagger: Martin Roth <martinroth@google.com>
Date:   Sun Apr 30 19:48:38 2017 -0600

coreboot version 4.6
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1

iQIcBAABCQAGBQJZBpP2AAoJEBl5bCs+T333xfgQAKhilfDTzqlr3MLJC4VChbmr
...
678e0NzyWsyqU1Vx2rdFdLANx6hghH1R7E5ybzHHUQrhb55BoEsnQMU1oS0npnT4
dwfLho1afk0ZLPUU1JFW
=25y8
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

commit db508565d2483394b709654c57533e55eebace51 (HEAD, tag: 4.6, origin/master, origin/HEAD)
...

When you used the script to generate the release, a tag was generated in the tree that was downloaded. From the coreboot-X.Y tree, just run: git push -f origin <TAG (X.Y)>

You will need write access for tags to the coreboot git repo to do this.

After the release is tagged in git

Announce that the release has been tagged - this lets people know that they should update their trees to grab the new tag. Until they do this, the version number in build.h will still be based on the previous tag.

Copy the tarballs and .sig files generated by the script to the coreboot server, and put them in the release directory at /srv/docker/www.coreboot.org-staticfiles/releases/

% sha256sum -b coreboot-*.tar.xz > sha256suma.txt # Update the sha256sum file
% diff sha256sum.txt sha256suma.txt # make sure that the two new files are present (and that nothing else has changed)
% mv sha256suma.txt sha256sum.txt

People can now see the release tarballs on the website at https://www.coreboot.org/releases/

The downloads page is the official place to download the releases from, and it needs to be updated with links to the new release tarballs and .sig files. It can be found at https://review.coreboot.org/cgit/homepage.git/tree/downloads.html

Here is an example commit to change it: https://review.coreboot.org/#/c/19515/

Upload crossgcc sources

Sometimes the source files for older revisions of crossgcc disappear. To deal with that we maintain a mirror at https://www.coreboot.org/releases/crossgcc-sources/ where we host the sources used by the crossgcc scripts that are part of coreboot releases.

Run

% util/crossgcc/buildgcc -u

This will output the set of URLs that the script uses to download the sources. Download them yourself and copy them into the crossgcc-sources directory on the server.

After the release is complete

Post the release notes on https://blogs.coreboot.org

Making a branch

At times we will need to create a branch, generally for patch fixes. When making a branch, do NOT name it the same as the release tag: X.Y - this creates trouble when trying to check it out, as git can’t tell whether you want the tag or the branch. Instead, name it X.Y_branch: git checkout 4.8; git checkout -b 4.8_branch; git push origin 4.8_branch

You can then cherry-pick changes and push them up to the branch:

git cherry-pick c6d134988c856d0025153fb885045d995bc8c397
git push origin HEAD:refs/for/4.8_branch