[Distutils] Version numbers for module distributions

Greg Stein gstein@lyra.org
Thu, 10 Dec 1998 10:46:16 -0800

Fred L. Drake wrote:
> ...
>  > Finally, Greg Stein raised the following wrinkle in private email:
>  >
>  > > I wanted to briefly let you know that Apache modules are typically
>  > > versioned as: 0.9.3-1.3.3. The first set refers to the module itself.
>  > > The second set refers to Apache (which is currently at 1.3.3).
>   This is a dependency issue, and the dependency checking component
> should be able to deal with version numbers as appropriate.  This is
> how other packaging systems deal with it (to the best of my
> knowledge, which is not comprehensive ;).

This is bunk.

I'm not putting it there for an automated tool! It is there for the
*USER* to figure out which one he wants. What about when I publish
1.1.3-2.0.1 and maintain *both*.

And I strongly agree with Marc-Andre about staying out of the semantics
of the version numbers. I'll use a format for the automated tool, but
stay away from *my* semantics.

I would also argue very strongly more more flexibility in the format
schemes. For example, looking at the RedHat 5.1 distribution, I see a
few formats:


I can draw a number of conclusions from this about types of formats that
need to be allowed. But that's a straight-forward exercise. The point

You have to be MUCH more flexible in what you can take for the version
number. You cannot legislate a numbering scheme to the masses. It simply
won't work because too many people have an idea of the "right" way to

As long as you can specify rules for HOW numbers will be compared, then
you're okay. For example:

1) a version number has 1 or more numbers separate by a period or by
sequences of letters. If only periods, then these are compared
left-to-right to determine an ordering.
2) sequences of letters are part of the tuple for comparison and are
compared lexicographically
3) recognize the numeric components may have leading zeroes

That should be about it.

Welcome to Other Peoples' Versioning. Have a nice stay. :-)


Greg Stein, http://www.lyra.org/