Fedora's new method is to split off the development branch at the point when it is deemed fit for stabilising and releasing. This is then released as the next Fedora release. Development on Rawhide continues apace.
But there is a way to go yet for Fedora to catch up with the Debian development pattern which has three streams of development - stable, testing and unstable. Stable is the last release which receives only security updates, unstable receives all the latest software which moves into testing when it has been in unstable for a while and now shown any major bugs. Testing becomes the next release.
Asked for comment, Debian GNU/Linux project leader Steve McIntyre said: "What they seem to have switched to is a common methodology: at the point when development freezes for a stable release, switch the frozen code onto a new branch so that you can continue to develop your bleeding-edge new stuff without jeopardising your stable release.
"It's a little bit similar to what we used to have in Debian before we started doing the 'testing' distribution, and it's a reasonable compromise. So long as you can still find people to do the stabilisation work, you can let your eager 'unstable' developers continue playing with new ideas.
One problem remains with the new Fedora model - at what point does one freeze things? "The reason that we moved on from this cycle and added the testing distribution was that we found it nigh-on impossible to find a good point to simply declare the unstable branch ready to freeze," McIntyre pointed out.
"When you have lots of developers uploading daily, it's possible you'll never get a stable enough base to be able to stick with it. It can be a lot of hard work to get there."