The Release Engineering of 4.3BSD

Marshall Kirk McKusick

Michael J. Karels

Keith Bostic

Computer Systems Research Group
Computer Science Division
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720


This paper describes an approach used by a small group of people to develop and integrate a large software system. It details the development and release engineering strategy used during the preparation of the 4.3BSD version of the UNIX** operating system. Each release cycle is divided into an initial development phase followed by a release engineering phase. The release engineering of the distribution is done in three steps. The first step has an informal control policy for tracking modifications; it results in an alpha distribution. The second step has more rigid change mechanisms in place; it results in a beta release. During the final step changes are tracked very closely; the result is the final distribution.

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