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Troy Topnik, February 2, 2010
They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. Well, ActiveState has been giving away ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl builds for years, and it's been good for us and for the open source language community.
We're going to keep doing that, but we're no longer going to be offering all the old versions for download.
The day-old bread analogy
Bakeries sometimes mark down day-old baked goods in order to get rid of them. After that attempt, they usually go in the dumpster. Some kind souls will give away the two-or-more-day-old stuff to those in need, or at least leave them on top of the dumpster.
Now imagine someone comes along, picks up a muffin from the top of the dumpster, takes a bite, and discovers that it's moldy. We'll even pretend that this person is surprised by that for some reason, and goes inside to complain about it.
Inside, he finds that the day-old and freshly baked ones are also free. The conversation might go something like this:
"Why did you leave all these moldy muffins in the alley when you've got free ones in here?"
"Why didn't you come in and get a fresh one? There's a sign out back."
"I didn't see the sign! I just saw a pile of tasty looking muffins!"
"Do you know how OLD those are?"
"No, I just know they taste terrible."
Software doesn't actually go moldy, but it does get out-of-date. Here's how this silly analogy relates to our language distributions.
Supporting older software
People get directed to our downloads in all sorts of ways, sometimes by following hard links to a specific version. Someone following that link won't necessarily know that they're installing an old version. If the link takes them to a long list of all available versions, they could (and often do) mistakenly download one that's almost a decade old.
Those versions, the best available when they were released, may now have security issues or incompatibilities with more current code. They almost certainly will have bugs that have since been patched in more recent releases.
Having those older versions available for download gives people the impression that they are still supported, and supporting them is difficult. It's no fun trying to reproduce a bug against the current release, only to find that it was fixed years ago in a previous release. Troubleshooting a new bug reported against the older version involves installing that older version before testing can begin.
We can do this, but it's time consuming and it's not sustainable for ActiveState to do this for free.
There are cases where you might have to stick with a particular version or build of a language. The software you're running may require a specific version to work properly. You may have have rigorous testing requirements that make for long periods between updates. If you find yourself in one of these situations, you want to make sure you can get support for that older version.
Access to older builds is now available as part of our new Business Edition offering. That's not all that Business Edition includes, but it's an important part for users who are bound to a particular version of the software.
Get 'em while they're hot
To summarize: Older versions of ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl are no longer available free for download.
If you're running one of these builds, you can continue to do so, or upgrade to the lastest version to get all the latest features and fixes.
If you're looking to download an installer, feel free to grab the latest version from our website.
If you have to use an older version, contact us about our Enterprise Distributions for ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl or Business Edition to make sure you'll be able to get support if you need it.