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Ruby-Core Speaks on Ruby 1.8.8, 1.9.3 and 2.0

By Peter Cooper / January 7, 2011

ruby-core.pngYou may imagine that the ruby-core mailing list is a 24/7 programming disco dealing with core Ruby implementation topics.. but no, it's usually a low-traffic list with calm discussion of bugs and patches. This week, however, some Interesting Stuff™ has happened and the kimono has been lifted on a few issues including, notably, a potential Ruby 1.8.8.

Yui Naruse, one of the core Ruby committers, was trying to dispel myths that the Japanese-language ruby-dev mailing list is a hotbed of illicit Ruby implementation activity by inviting people to ask any implementation-related questions they liked in ruby-core. From the results of this, we can pick up a few tidbits:

What's going on with Ruby 1.9.1?

Still alive but is less active because of yugui's resource. I think, it will die soon.

Yui Naruse

When will Ruby 1.9.3 be released?

Not decided but we want to release 1.9.x every 1.5 years (to prevent 1.9.2 become too stable one like 1.8.6). So it may be released in 2011-12-25 or 2012.

Yui Naruse

What about Ruby 2.0?

See Matz's presentation at RubyConf 2010. [..] But when we relase Ruby 2.0 is not decided. I think it takes several years [PC: emphasis mine].

Yui Naruse

Yes, several years. Ruby 2.0 is our Perl 6.

Ruby 1.8.8 - Another Update to the 1.8 Branch?

Yui also let slip that that there could be a Ruby 1.8.8 waiting in the wings and the next day Shota Fukumori posted Let's begin a talk for "1.8.8", an English translation of a Japanese ruby-dev post. It's a little hard to read but the general points are:

  • Ruby 1.9.0 came out 3 years ago and Ruby 1.8.7 will be 3 years old in June 2011. This is the longest it has been between significant releases.
  • Ruby 1.9.2 is recommended for new development but, it is claimed, many "can't use 1.9.x in actuality" because "extension libraries" do not work [I'm not au fait with libraries used in Japan but most of the mainstream ones now are fine IME].
  • Ruby 1.8 must not become "uncontrolled" [Unmaintained, I'm assuming..]

From these points, Shota proposes three ways forward:

  1. 1.8.8 could be created as a "better 1.8.7" with a release date of Summer 2011.
  2. 1.8.8 can be worked on until it is "ideal" and users are not affected. A release date of 2020 is proposed. [This is the joke entry, I take it.]
  3. No 1.8.8 ever.

The ultimate question, though, is "What do we do?" Ultimately it's for the community to decide. Matz himself has said:

We haven't have any consensus yet. Maybe it's good time to start discussion. I myself don't think 1.8.8 is needed. But there might be demand for 1.8.8 or later.


So if this is something you care strongly for, get discussing. IMHO, I want to encourage people onto 1.9.2 as much as possible. The water's warm, the libraries are (finally) friendly, and Ruby 1.9 is better in many ways.

And if you're not yawning yet..

In other ruby-core news, Lucas Nussbaum kicked off a heated debate about the virtues of moving MRI development to Git (it ain't gunna happen) and Ryan "zenspider" Davis proposes that gem_prelude should die (based on the RubyGems team's experiences with Ruby 1.9.2 and the new RubyGems 1.4).


  1. Mark Carey says:

    Actually a weekly/monthly summary/review of what's going on in ruby-core & ruby-dev and possibly irc would be an awesome addition to rubyinside. I remember a few years ago when I first was getting into ruby, someone doing that and it was really helpful in keeping up.

  2. Peter Cooper says:

    I don't think I'd do it weekly but "every now and then" would be interesting (i.e. most months but not a tight schedule). I'll keep it in mind and keep my eyes peeled on any interesting goings ons ;-)

  3. Daniel Berger says:

    No, Ruby 2.0 is not our Perl 6. Ruby 1.9 effectively -is- Ruby 2 IMO, and some people have been using it in production for a while. Unfortunately, the ruby-core dev team appears to be treating "2.0" as some sort of Platonic ideal that can never be reached. That, or I don't know what the roadmap is to achieve 2.0 status.

  4. WT says:

    Daniel has a point.

    Perl 5.0 to 6.0 is going to be > 14 years. I know it was just an offhand comment, but the analogy isn't apt.

  5. Peter Cooper says:

    @WT: Ruby 1.0 to 2.0 will be > 14 years too. Ruby 1.0 came out in 1996.

  6. Andrew Grimm says:

    Did Perl 5 continue to develop even while Perl 6 was Duke Nukem Forevering?

    "a hotbed of illicit Ruby implementation activity" - is this referring to the recent complaint by the Debian ex-maintainer?

  7. Peter Cooper says:

    @Andrew: Yes. In fact, Perl 5 is still under heavy development. Perl 6 has essentially turned out to be a whole new language separate from the idea of Perl 5. It wouldn't surprise me if this split occurred with Ruby 1.8/9 vs the elusive Ruby 2.0 given the further syntax changes that have been posited.

    Regarding the "hotbed of illicit Ruby implementation activity" - sort of, though it was more a joke.

  8. khelll says:

    Seriously, what's Ruby 2.0? I don't see a point of mentioning it every while and then since there is no clear roadmap for it.

    Another thing that bothers me is the need of translation to understand everything planned in Ruby world. It's becoming a pain in the ass.

    ppl behind Ruby should grow up. We are in 2011 and the whole community seems to be controlled by Matz and 2-3 other guys behind YARV.

    Seriously guys, either let's fork Ruby and start a professional way of working instead of this slow weird way of development or there should be a whole group following up the state of Ruby and working for it.

  9. Zeno Davatz says:

    Thanks for this blog post. What I find interesting is, that Matz officially says that consistency is not necessarily a goal for him:

    I think it should be a goal - very important goal at least for Ruby 1.8.x up to Version 2.0 - 2.0 can be a complete new thing. Lucas Nussbaum does have a point saying that there are a lot of branches out there. Ruby-Core should really focus on keeping the flock together. Linus Torvalds calls it "herding cats" ;).

    Also I do not understand why Ruby does not switch to GIT. That should happen asap IMHO.


  10. Ryan Davis says:


    No, the analogy isn't apt as the two languages have completely different versioning schemes. perl's 5.y.z is equivalent to ruby's 1.8.y.pZ. See [ruby-core:34527].

    Comparing ruby 1.0 to 2.0 is like comparing perl 5.0 to 15.0. That's an exaggeration as the versioning scheme has changed at least once--but the point is still valid.

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