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Firefox is killing off the Aurora release channel, which will improve the speed at which new features can be rolled out—hopefully by as much as six to eight weeks.
As of April 18, there are now just three main stages for new Firefox features: Nightly (alpha), Beta (beta), and Release (stable).
Here’s a handy chart showing the new release cadence. Mozilla is calling this the “Dawn project,” incidentally.
For the majority of Firefox’s history (2004 to 2011) it used a conventional release cycle, with major releases roughly every year or two. With the release of Firefox 5 in June 2011, the browser moved to a new rapid release cadence that closely mirrored Google’s Chrome, which had been releasing new features and picking up users very quickly. Four release channels were created—Nightly, Aurora, Beta, and Release—with the Firefox code moving between each channel every six to eight weeks.
Thus, a new stable version of the browser plopped out the end of the pipeline roughly every two months, rather than every year.
Aurora was meant to have about 10 times more users than Nightly and act as an early stabilisation channel.
If any new features were found to be unstable, they’d usually be disabled before heading down the pike to Beta, where there’s meant to be about 10 times more users than Aurora.
The process is repeated in the Beta channel, with the larger userbase hopefully discovering any remaining instabilities before the build is handed over to the Release channel.
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