Beat on “state of the dolphin” (or: Why Software is never really ready until a .20 release)

Beat Vontobel blogs about “fuþark: The silence of futhark and the state of the dolphin” which is basically about how he’s found that the 5.0.20 release of MySQL is when the 5.0 release is really starting to shine.

This confirms my theory (that I’ve had for quite a while now… like years) that a software release is never really mature until it hits about .20 (that’s dot twenty, not dot two).

When something reaches .10 (dot ten) it’s no longer going to be annoying for most uses, but .20 means that you’re going to be happy. Don’t ask me really why this is the case, but it is.

Think about the 2.6 kernel (yes, Linux Kernel – honestly, you think i was talking about something else?). At about 2.6.10, it would no longer be a pain to use and get things going – everything was starting to be smooth. As we’re getting closer to .20, things are getting better too. Mind you, everything here does run 2.6 now (and so does my mum’s machine – which is always a good sign of something being ready). With 2.4 hitting .20 – you’d never even think about using 2.2, 2.4 was perfect (except when you wanted 2.6).

GNOME (and everything attached to it) is getting to be a really good desktop – ever since about the 2.10 release I’ve been using just much more of the GNOMEy way of doing things because they’re actually getting useful and usable (don’t get me wrong, previous releases were good too – but a lot more things annoyed me). As the releases have progressed, I’m increasingly convinced that 2.20 will be the “we’re here” release. 2.14 is a lot better, but there’s still a bunch of stuff that has to be done before it’s totally kick-ass.

There are no surprises in MySQL 4.0 (it’s past .20 – at .26 now). Everybody knows and trusts it. 4.1 is at 4.1.18 – which is about as good as a .20 and it’s a pretty happy release. But due to 4.0 being rather solid – a lot of people have just stuck there. We’re seeing a bunch move to 5.0 – but my theory is that this will be 5.0.20 or above. Hrrm… anybody see a pattern?

MySQL 5.1 is at 5.1.10 (or so) and it’s stopped being annoying, and that great march towards a .20 is healthy and active.

GCC 2.95 had a lot of respect for a very long time (now it’s just a bit old). Note that .95 is higher than .20 :)

EMACS is at version 21, but ed is only at .2 (hrrm.. and which is used by more people as their editor i wonder).

aptitude at 0.2.15 (getting to .20) – while apt is at 0.6.40 (above .20). RPM is only at 4.0.4 – so a bit to go there :)

The version of postgresql is 7.5.9 over here… so getting to the .1 stage, but away from the .20. (now I’m going to watch comments fill up with postgesql guys going on about something, i just know it :) But there is 7.3.14 – a lot closer to .20!

MythTV is at 0.19 – getting closer to the .20 release (it’s a lot better than even just a few releases ago).

(versions here mostly taken from whatever ubuntu 5.04 has)

Note that attempting to skip a whole bunch of versions and label your software 95, 98, 2003 or whatever doesn’t get you “.20” status. Neither does just skipping to “.20” automatically. It’s about hard work and removing annoying things (we tend to call them bugs).

This is a really stupid metric of software maturity. It is, however, disturbingly accurate.

6 thoughts on “Beat on “state of the dolphin” (or: Why Software is never really ready until a .20 release)

  1. Yeah… after looking at I’m a bit confused too.

    $ dpkg -l postgresql
    | Status=Not/Installed/Config-files/Unpacked/Failed-config/Half-installed
    |/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
    ||/ Name Version Description
    ii postgresql 7.5.9 object-relational SQL database management sy
    stewart@willster:~/$ psql
    Welcome to psql 7.4.8, the PostgreSQL interactive terminal.


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