Documentation: Add documentation about the release process

It's originally written by Martin who graciously allowed to me rework it
a bit and push it into coreboot's documentation.

Change-Id: I14938d678e4620abec7ed5f0d35dddaf00edda6d
Signed-off-by: Patrick Georgi <>
Reviewed-by: Stefan Reinauer <>
Reviewed-by: Martin Roth <>
Tested-by: build bot (Jenkins) <>
diff --git a/Documentation/releases/ b/Documentation/releases/
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+# coreboot Release Process
+This document describes our release process and all prerequisites to implement
+it successfully.
+## Purpose of coreboot releases
+Our releases aren't primarily a vehicle for code that is stable across all
+boards: The logistics of testing the more than 100 boards that are spread out
+all continents (except Antarctica, probably) on a given tree state are
+prohibitive for project of our size.
+Instead, the releases are regular breakpoints that serve multiple purposes:
+They support cooperation between multiple groups (corporations or otherwise)
+in that it's easier to keep source trees synchronized based on a limited set
+of commits. They allow a quick assessment of the age of any given build or
+source tree based on its git version (4.8-1234 was merged into master a few
+months after 4.8, which came out in April 2018. 4.0-21718's age is harder to
+And finally we use releases to as points in time where we remove old code:
+Once we decide that a certain part of coreboot gets in the way of future
+development, we announce on the next release that we intend to remove that
+part - and everything that depends on it - after the following release.
+So removing feature FOO will be announced in release X for release
+X+1. The first commit after X+1 is fair game for such removal.
+Together with our 6 months release horizon, this provides time to plan
+any migrations necessary to keep older boards in the tree by bringing
+them up to current standards.
+## Needed credentials & authorizations
+* Website access is required to post the release files to the website.
+* IRC admin access is required to update the topic.
+* Git access rights are needed to post the tag.
+* Blog post access is needed to do the blog post.
+* A PGP key is required to sign the release tarballs and git tag.
+This set of required credentials implies that releases can only be done
+by a coreboot admin.
+## When to release
+Releases are done roughly on a 6-month schedule, ideally around end
+of April and end of October (can be a bit earlier or delay into May
+or November).
+We initially followed a 3 month release schedule, but we found that to
+be more frequent than was needed, so we scaled it back to twice a year.
+## Checklist
+### ~2 weeks prior to release
+- [ ] Announce upcoming release to mailing list, ask people to test and
+      to update release notes
+### ~1 week prior to release
+- [ ] Send reminder email to mailing list, ask for people to test,
+      and to update the release notes
+- [ ] Update the topic in the irc channel with the date of the upcoming
+      release
+### Day of release
+- [ ] Update release notes, without specifying release commit ids
+- [ ] Select a commit ID to base the release upon, announce to IRC,
+      ask for testing.
+- [ ] Test the commit selected for release
+- [ ] Run release script
+- [ ] Test the release from the actual release tarballs
+- [ ] Push signed Tag to repo
+- [ ] Announce that the release tag is done on IRC
+- [ ] Update release notes with actual commit id, push to repo
+- [ ] Upload release files to web server
+- [ ] Update download page to point to files, push to repo
+- [ ] Write and publish blog post with release notes.
+- [ ] Update the topic in the irc channel that the release is done.
+## Pre-Release tasks
+Announce the upcoming release to the mailing list release 2 weeks ahead
+of the planned release date.
+The announcement should state the planned release date, point to the
+release notes that are in the making and ask people to test the hardware
+they have to make sure it's working with the current master branch,
+from which the release will ultimately be derived from.
+People should also be encouraged to provide additions to the
+release notes, for example by putting them on some [collaborative
+The final release notes will reside in coreboot's Documentation/releases
+directory, so asking for additions to that through the regular Gerrit
+process works as well. Note that git requires lots of conflict resolution
+on heavily edited text files though.
+Frequently, we will want to wait until particular things are in the
+release.  Once those are in, you can select the commit ID that you want
+to use for your release.  For the 4.6 release, we waited until we had
+time to do the release, then pulled in a few patches that we wanted
+to have in the release.  The release was based on the final of those
+patches to be pulled in.
+When a release candidate has been selected, announce the commit ID to
+the #coreboot irc channel, and request that it get some testing, just
+to make sure that everything is sane.
+## Generate the release
+After the commit for the release has been selected and verified, run the
+release script - util/release/build-release.  This will download a new
+tree, checkout the commit that you specified, download the submodules,
+create a tag, then generate and sign the tarballs.
+Be prepared to type in your PGP key’s passphrase.
+usage: util/release/build-release <version> [commit id] [username] [gpg key id]
+Tags a new coreboot version and creates a tar archive
+version:    New version name to tag the tree with
+commit id:  check out this commit-id after cloning the coreboot tree
+username:   clone the tree using ssh://USERNAME - defaults to https://
+gpg key id: used to tag the version, and generate a gpg signature
+After running the script, you should have a new directory for the release,
+along with 4 files - 2 tarballs, and 2 signature files.
+drwxr-xr-x   9 martin martin      4096 Apr 30 19:57 coreboot-4.6
+-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin  29156788 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-4.6.tar.xz
+-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin       836 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-4.6.tar.xz.sig
+-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin   5902076 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-blobs-4.6.tar.xz
+-rw-r--r--   1 martin martin       836 Apr 30 19:58 coreboot-blobs-4.6.tar.xz.sig
+Here’s the command that was used to generate the 4.6 release:
+% util/release/build-release 4.6 db508565 Gaumless 3E4F7DF7
+## Test the release from the tarballs
+* Run “make what-jenkins-does” and verify that everything is building.
+* Build and test qemu
+  ````
+  cp configs/config.emulation_qemu_x86_i440fx .config; make olddefconfig; make
+  qemu-system-x86_64 -bios build/coreboot.rom -serial stdio
+  ````
+* Build and test any other platforms you can.
+* Compare the directory from the tarballs to the coreboot repo to make sure nothing went wrong.
+* Push the tag to git
+A good tag will look like this:
+% git show 4.6
+tag 4.6
+Tagger: Martin Roth <>
+Date:   Sun Apr 30 19:48:38 2017 -0600
+coreboot version 4.6
+Version: GnuPG v1
+commit db508565d2483394b709654c57533e55eebace51 (HEAD, tag: 4.6, origin/master, origin/HEAD)
+When you used the script to generate the release, a tag was generated in the tree that was downloaded.
+From the coreboot-X.Y tree, just run: `git push -f origin <TAG (X.Y)>`
+You will need write access for tags to the coreboot git repo to do this.
+## After the release is tagged in git
+Announce that the release has been tagged - this lets people know that
+they should update their trees to grab the new tag.  Until they do this,
+the version number in build.h will still be based on the previous tag.
+Copy the tarballs and .sig files generated by the script to
+the coreboot server, and put them in the release directory at
+% sha256sum -b coreboot-*.tar.xz > sha256suma.txt # Update the sha256sum file
+% diff sha256sum.txt sha256suma.txt # make sure that the two new files are present (and that nothing else has changed)
+% mv sha256suma.txt sha256sum.txt
+People can now see the release tarballs on the website at
+The downloads page is the official place to download the releases from, and it needs to be updated with links to the new release tarballs and .sig files. It can be found at
+Here is an example commit to change it:
+## After the release is complete
+Post the release notes on
+## Making a branch
+At times we will need to create a branch, generally for patch fixes.
+When making a branch, do NOT name it the same as the release tag: X.Y - this creates trouble when trying to check it out, as git can’t tell whether you want the tag or the branch.
+Instead, name it X.Y\_branch: `git checkout 4.8; git checkout -b 4.8_branch; git push origin 4.8_branch`
+You can then cherry-pick changes and push them up to the branch:
+git cherry-pick c6d134988c856d0025153fb885045d995bc8c397
+git push origin HEAD:refs/for/4.8_branch
diff --git a/Documentation/releases/ b/Documentation/releases/
index 602a63a..4571d12 100644
--- a/Documentation/releases/
+++ b/Documentation/releases/
@@ -10,6 +10,12 @@
 * [4.7 - January 2018](
 * [4.8 - May 2018](
+The checklist contains instructions to ensure that a release covers all
+important things and provides a reliable format for tarballs, branch
+names etc.
+* [checklist](
 Upcoming release