Firefox by the (wall-clock) numbers

Mozilla released Firefox on Monday 26-nov-2007, at 6.30pm PST.

From “do we need a release” to “release is now available to public” was 14 days 2 hours wall-clock time, of which the Beta period took 6.75 days, and Build&Release took 34 hours.

16:25 12nov: decide regressions introduced in FF2.0.0.9 justify producing a quick FF2.0.0.10 to address
20:20 14nov: Dev says “go”
03:40 15nov: builds started
07:05 15nov: linux builds handed to QA
11:05 15nov: linux, mac and win32 signed builds handed to QA
07:00 16nov: update snippets on betatest update channel
14:00 19nov: QA says “go” for Beta
15:00 19nov: update snippets on beta update channel
09:15 26nov: Dev & QA says “go” for Release; Build starts final signing, bouncer entries
11:00 26nov: final signing, bouncer entries done; mirror replication started
18:30 26nov: update snippets on live update channel; website changes finalized and visible; release announced

While Build Automation in FF2.0.0.10 was much smoother than FF2.0.0.9, this was still not yet a “human free” release:
1) We still manually do signing, adding bouncer entries, starting mirror replication and monitoring mirror replication, pushing snippets to beta channel, pushing snippets to release channel. Combined, these took 5.5 hours of the Build time, and are not yet automated.
2) We had to hold the release, waiting for some website changes to be made and then published. This delay was caused by an internal human communication snafu within Mozilla – some folks had not been notified we were releasing that day, so some website changes were not ready. We eventually raised them on cellphones after they landed off a plane, and made the website changes, but this delay cost us approx 3 hours. We’re tweaking the human processes to try to avoid this in future.
3) Mirror absorption took 3 hours to reach all values >= 60%. We’ve been experimenting with the last few releases, to see what absorption value is “good enough” without hammering individual mirrors. So far, a lower limit of 70%, 65% and 60% have been tried. Without any real evidence, I just feel nervous about trying any lower percentage, as fewer mirrors would be sharing the overall load, maybe burning that mirror’s bandwidth. Open to persuasion though, if people have suggestions?!!

take care