Mozilla has announced the launch of Aurora, a new Firefox release channel that is intended to open up experimental Firefox features to a broader audience of testers. The Aurora channel will serve up a stream of Firefox builds that are less fragile than the nightly builds but not as stable as official pre-releases. Mozilla is transitioning to shorter release cycles and a more incremental development model. The organization aims to deliver three more major Firefox releases this year, bringing the open source Web browser’s version number up to 7. The transition will require much more intensive testing throughout the open source development cycle. Launching the Aurora channel and increasing concurrent testing is one part of Mozilla’s strategy for preserving its high standards of quality assurance as it transitions to shorter development cycles. As part of the transition to the channel model, Mozilla is also going eliminate the need for freezes on the mozilla-central repository during stabilization—effectively making it possible for new code to continue landing in trunk throughout the whole cycle. Mozilla already offers a nightly build channel, which is codenamed Minefield. The Minefield builds are produced by an automated build server based on the latest Firefox code in Mozilla’s version control system. Firefox contributors and some adventurous testers routinely experiment with the nightly builds and submit bug reports to Mozilla based on issues that they encounter. The nightly builds have long been a great way to ride the burning edge of the Firefox trunk, but are subject to breakage. The quality of the nightly builds tends to fluctuate considerably throughout the development cycle. The lack of predictability makes it generally unsuitable for day-to-day use. Mozilla is offering Aurora as a more robust alternative to nightly builds with the aim of making early-stage testing palatable to a slightly more mainstream (and much larger) audience of software enthusiasts. The Aurora builds are available for users to download and install.