Now that Firefox 4 is out in the wild, Mozilla is changing up the way we all test and update Firefox. Users will now have three different variations of Firefox to download at any given time. Now, most people will want to download the final release version – as that is the most stable of the bunch. However, for those of you who like to test Firefox out as the development cycle rolls on – you have some exciting new things to look forward to.
Firefox is bringing in a new test channel (to compliment nightly test builds, the beta version and the final release) called Aurora. The Aurora channel of updates will deliver features to users at various levels of quality and polish. This will be the new testing grounds as far as new features and innovations go too.
Overall, introducing this new update channel will both speed up development and give developers better access to get the things done they need to do. Here is a quick blurb about it from Firefox Release Manager Christian Legnitto:
Lastly, the new repositories (which map to the channels) allow developers to do what they do best—develop. No longer should a developer need to know we are in blocker-only mode for a particular release. Instead, they will be allowed to land their fixes on mozilla-central at any time provided they stick to the mozilla-central tree rules. The mozilla-aurora repository will have different rules, and mozilla-beta will have different (and stricter) rules still. The rules for each of these repositories will not change over time or from release to release, which should help alleviate a lot of developer confusion and annoyance
For more information on the new development channels for Firefox 4 and beyond, be sure to check out this fantastic post by Christian in the Mozilla Developer Center.