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19 February 2009, 16:04

Ruby 1.8.6 going to the Engineyard?

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Recent discussions on Ruby developer mailing lists have seen Engineyard volunteer to take over the maintenance of Ruby 1.8.6. There are, at present, three major versions of what is called "Matz's Ruby", 1.8.6, 1.8.7 and the recently released 1.9.1. Ruby 1.8.6 is currently the most widely deployed version, while Ruby 1.8.7, released in May 2008, has a number of issues, caused by an attempt to back port features from the, then in development 1.9, to the 1.8.x series. The issues lead some, like the jRuby developers, to skip Ruby 1.8.7 compatibility completely and move straight to Ruby 1.9.

Application hosting companies like Engineyard have an investment in Ruby 1.8.6 as they currently host around 6000 virtual machines running Ruby 1.8.6 and have no plans to upgrade to 1.8.7. However, a handover of management of Ruby 1.8.6 would not happen immediately. There are a number of patches to back port to 1.8.6 and Engineyard would like to include the "MBARI" patches by Brent Roman, which fix some memory leaks and garbage collection issues. According to Engineyard's Ezra Zygmuntowicz, the patches "drastically improve the memory pressure of all the ruby apps we've tested it on".

Zygmuntowicz had earlier committed to maintaining the stability of Ruby 1.8.6 saying "We have a lot of customers using it and have a vested interest in keeping it around and patched with the latest security and efficiency related patches, without changing any APIs and keeping in line with what folks expect from a stable Ruby 1.8.6". The commitment was welcomed by Urabe Shyouhei, current maintainer of Ruby 1.8.6 and discussions are continuing on the particulars of the hand over.


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