Let's have a great 21.11 release cycle!

Just wanted to officially thank the community for the opportunity given to @tomberek and myself as the new release managers for the next two cycles. We are very grateful for the chance to give back to the NixOS community and push the state of the project that much further! We would also like to give special thanks to @jonringer in advance, since I’m sure he will be an instrumental guide for us.

With that, I’d like to remind everyone of the current release cycle schedule. Since we’ve got a few weeks til the major lifting begins, feel free to brainstorm any further ideas, improvements or even just comments or concerns in this thread.

I’m also considering opening an additional RFC, if necessary, to codify any additional release goals that may arise. For example, one big question I have personally is whether we want to start integrating flakes more during the next few cycles or whether we just leave everything in legacyPackages as is.

Either way, we’ll be relying heavily on the collective expertise of the entire community to make these next few cycles smooth and successful, and as part of that, we’d like to make ourselves as available as possible. For this, we have recently created a dedicated release management room on the Matrix Space if you’d rather communicate in sync.

Most of all, thanks to everyone who helps to keep NixOS growing and progressing into one of the most awesome and useful distributions around!


Thanks in advance to Tim, @tomberek and @jonringer for 21.11

Your work is greatly appreciated.


The planned schedule:

Date Weeks from Release Branches Affected Events
Oct 1 -8 Weeks Ask ecosystems for desired changes, in “Feature Freeze”
Oct 15 -6 Weeks staging-next, staging Restrict breaking changes to Release Critical Packages
Oct 29 -4 Weeks staging-next, staging Restrict all breaking changes: allow only non-breaking updates and Desktop Manager changes
Nov 4 -3 Weeks master (Day before ZHF) merge staging-next into master, prep for ZHF
Nov 5 -3 Weeks master Begin ZHF, Focus on minimizing regressions in PRs targeting master
Nov 12 -2 Weeks master Merge first staging-next fixes into master; begin second staging-next cycle
Nov 12 -2 Weeks staging Unrestrict all breaking changes; new changes will not be present in master before branch-off
Nov 19 -1 Weeks master Merge second staging-next fix cycle
Nov 19 -1 Weeks staging-next Unrestrict all breaking changes; new changes will not be present in master before branch-off
Nov 19 -1 Weeks master, release Perform Branch-off, create release channels, create new beta / unstable tags
Nov 19 -1 Weeks master, release ZHF transitions to “backporting” workflow
Nov 19 -1 Weeks release Prepare for release, finish remaining issues
Nov 26 0 Weeks release Release!
Nov 26 0 Weeks ZHF Ends

In case anyone missed it on GitHub, please report any issues you feel would be critical to resolve for the next release on the feature freeze issue.

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This is only relevant for mass rebuilds and updates that need to go to staging. Leaf packages can still merge breaking changes.

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The Nov 12 events, have been pushed back, due to a longer staging-next PR cycle.

Until the next staging-next PR is started, breaking changes should be avoided in staging.


With staging-next: 21.11 iteration 2 - 2021-11-16 by jonringer · Pull Request #146259 · NixOS/nixpkgs · GitHub, staging is now free for breaking changes to be merged. Those changes will not make it into the release.


Branch-off is currently delayed until rebuild count of staging-next is below a reasonable amount. @grahamc has been notified that all of the spot instances were taken.

Branch-off saturday is unlikely, sunday is more likely.


hydra has gone from 6 concurrent builds to ~110 concurrent builds (thanks @grahamc). Hydra has also chewed through ~70k builds in the last 24 hrs. branch-off likely for sundary.

cc @nrdxp @tomberek

EDIT (again, 2021-11-21):
qt5.qtwebengine has been fixed, waiting for rebuild count to go down. Branch-off moved back to 22nd.


The branch off just occurred a few moments ago. This means that any new fixes that land between now and the actual release should follow the usual backport procedure going forward. That is, tag your PR as backport release-21.11 if your PR is relevant to the release.


What’s the status here? Due to the delayed branch-off I thought that meant we’d see a release yesterday. It looks like there’s now nixos-21.11{,-small,-aarch64} branches/channels (and corresponding entries on status.nixos.org) but no announcement yet.

I expect this means it’s imminent, and I’m hoping that it also means nixos-21.11 is suitable for public consumption. I am just frustrated at the lack of communication here. I’d have loved to see a few things happen:

  1. When the branch-off was delayed, and then happened, either the schedule above should have been updated, or a new “remaining schedule” should have been posted (in particular, showing the new planned release date).
  2. Since we didn’t see a release yesterday, an update on the expected release should have been posted. This should have happened once we knew the release wouldn’t happen.
  3. If there is going to be a release today, this information should also have been posted somewhere. If the schedule was updated accordingly then that would be fine.

Basically, when the branch-off happened, the schedule should have been updated and a new “release day” should have been listed. And assuming that it would have listed yesterday, once we knew we weren’t releasing yesterday, a new “expected release day” should have been posted (along with an explanation of why it slipped).

Also, the release info is here on Discourse, but if this is meant to be the official public announcement of the release schedule, then it probably should have been linked from the top of 21.11 Feature Freeze · Issue #140168 · NixOS/nixpkgs · GitHub (as that’s the pinned nixpkgs issues about this release). Either that, or nixpkgs should use a Milestone for each release and put this info in the Milestone.


@lilyball thank you for voicing your concerns and they are well understood. Keep in mind we do now have a matrix channel dedicated to release management where we have been coordinating the last few days. Check it out here:

With that said, it is as you say, the release is now imminent, we were just waiting on a few tasks which have just recently finished. Just have to make a final pass to ensure everything is order and release should happen very soon after.

With that said, the nixos-21.11 branch already exists on GitHub, so if you already have a running NixOS install, you can target that branch and already be running 21.11.

I agree, we probably should have said what we still had left here on Discourse after our RM meeting last night. I guess I just figured anyone who was really interested was already following along on Matrix. Apologies :pray:


@nrdxp I’m aware of the existence of the Matrix channel, but I wasn’t sure if it was something that users were expected to consult. I certainly wouldn’t want to contribute any noise in there while people are working on a release, as a chat room is rather more real-time than a forum like Discourse.


Just wanted to thank everyone involved in the release, switching my Flake inputs to 21.11 went along perfectly on my install!