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Studying what has really delayed the previous Debian releases could help us improve our process.
For potato: FIXME: I don't remember
1) toolchain issues 2) boot-floppy 3) security infrastructure update
1) toolchain issues 2) debian-installer 3) security infrastructure update
1) We will probably have toolchain issues when moving to gcc-4.x 2) We might be able to keep debian-installer releasable 3) The security infrastructure update will still have to happen.
However, security infrastructure update took 3 months for woody, so this cannot accounted for all the delay.
We see that the large number of packages did not delay the releases.
We could release etch in 18 months by doing:
12 months: etch debian-installer ready, start of security infrastructure update, toolchain almost ready 15 months: security infrastructure update+toolchain ready 18 months: final fixup, upgrade test, CD creation, release notes.
If JoeyHess move to gather a security team for testing succeeds, that might provide an incentive to setup the testing-security infrastructure much earlier.