How are the bitrise.io stacks updated and with what frequency? What's the stack deprecation / removal policy?

The stacks on bitrise.io are updated every weekend, but what’s updated depends on the stack. There are stacks where only certain caches are updated (no preinstalled tools etc.), and there are stacks which are completely re-built every week. You can find the update type of the stacks below.

Xcode stacks

Xcode stacks, except the β€œEdge” one, are built once, and are not updated at all, except with Bitrise CLI related updates, dependency manager cache updates and with critical fixes. These are Stable stacks, designed so that if a build worked on the stack, the same build should run the same way as long as the stack is available.

Dependency manager cache updates: All of the macOS stacks receive a dependency manager cache (brew, cocoapods and bitrise CLI) update every week. These Cache updates do not change the pre-installed tool versions, it’s only an update of package manager caches, for faster dependency installs. As everything else we use for provisioning the macOS VMs, the weekly cache update Ansible playbook can be found on GitHub.

The Xcode β€œEdge” stack is re-built every week, so it includes the latest-and-greatest versions of the pre-installed tools, not just dependency manager cache updates. It uses the same scripts we use for creating new Xcode stacks, which can be found at: https://github.com/bitrise-io/osx-box-bootstrap.

Android / Linux (Docker) stacks

The Android / Linux stacks are prepared with docker, using multiple, separate docker images, built on top of each other. You can find these on GitHub at https://github.com/bitrise-docker.

The Android (Ubuntu 16.04) stack is a rolling release stack, rebuilt automatically from a base Ubuntu image.

The Android LTS (Long Term Support) (Ubuntu 14.04) image is a β€œfrozen” version of a previous rolling release image, and is not updated at all, except with Bitrise CLI related updates and with critical fixes.

Xamarin stacks

The Xamarin Stacks are built on top of the latest stable Xcode stack, so the preinstalled things of the base Xcode stack are not updated and are the same as in the base Xcode stack. The Xamarin specific bits are applied on top of the base Xcode image, every week, when generating the Xamarin stacks (using this Ansible playbook).

The dependency manager cache updates are applied on these stacks too (see the Xcode stacks -> Dependency manager cache updates section for more detail).

In addition to the dependency manager cache updates, Xamarin Stacks are upgraded to the latest
Xamarin Studio versions on every weekend, except the LTS (Long Term Support) stacks.

This means that the Xamarin stacks are hybrid stacks, built on a Stable base Xcode stack, but applying certain Xamarin specific bits and updates every week.

The Xamarin Stable LTS (Long Term Support) stack, similar to the Android LTS stack, is a β€œfrozen” version of a previous Xamarin Stable stack version, and is not updated at all, except with Bitrise CLI related updates and with critical fixes.


Stack Deprecation / removal policy

Xcode

  • We keep the latest patch version of every minor Xcode version for as long as that Xcode version is the latest major version.
  • In addition we keep the very last minor+patch version of the previous two major Xcode versions

Example:

When the latest Xcode version was 8.3.3 we kept:

All the latest patch releases for every minor version of Xcode 8:

  • 8.3.x (8.3.3)
  • 8.2.x (8.2.1)
  • 8.1.x (8.1)
  • 8.0.x (8.0)

And the latest versions from the previous two Xcode major versions:

  • 7.3.1
  • 6.4

Removal schedule: when the first beta of the next major Xcode version is released we deprecate all the minor versions of the last major version, except the very last version (continuing the above example, when the first beta of Xcode 9 was released we deprecated all the Xcode 8 stacks except the very last one, 8.3.x) as well as the oldest major version (Xcode 6.4 in the example above).

Once the first final (non beta) version of the new major Xcode version is released we remove the deprecated stacks, the oldest major version (from the above example, when Xcode 9 (final, non beta) was released we removed the Xcode 6 (6.4) stack) as well as the minor versions of the last major version except the latest minor version (in the example above the Xcode 8.0, 8.1 and 8.2 stacks; keeping the Xcode 8.3 one).

This means that the latest patch release version of Xcode is supported for about 2.5 years, in sync with Xcode major version releases.

Xamarin

Most of the Xamarin stacks are upgraded every weekend, so the only stack which is affected by a long term support and deprecation policy is the Xamarin Stable LTS (long term support) stack.

We upgrade the Xamarin Stable LTS stack when we roll out the first Xamarin updates built on a new Xcode major version.

What we do actually is that we keep the last Xamarin Stable (non LTS) stack built on the previous / last Xcode major version.

Example: when the first Xamarin Stable (non LTS) stack (built on Xcode 9) was released, we upgraded the Xamarin Stable LTS stack to the one built on the latest Xcode 8 version.

This means that the Xamarin Stable LTS stack is supported for about 1 year, in sync with Xcode major version releases.

Android/Linux

The Android/Linux LTS stack is upgraded when we release the first non LTS stack update with a new Ubuntu LTS version.

Example: The Android/Linux LTS stack was upgraded to the last version built on Ubuntu 16.04 when we released the first non LTS Android/Linux stack update built on Ubuntu 18.04

This means that an Android/Linux LTS stack is supported for about 2 years, roughly in sync with Ubuntu LTS (long term support) releases.

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Update: Stack Deprecation / removal policy added

Xamarin Studio stacks are now deprecated, please switch to the Visual Studio for Mac stack.

The Xamarin Studio installer is no longer available on Xamarin | Open-source mobile app platform for .NET, and even the previously downloaded Xamarin Studio installer will now install Visual Studio for Mac instead of Xamarin Studio, so we’re now deprecating the Xamarin Studio stacks and replacing it with the new Visual Studio for Mac one.

Related announcement & discussion: