[Mailman-Users] GNU Mailman 3 alpha 5

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Wed Jan 20 18:28:03 CET 2010

Clare Redstone writes:

 > I don't know enough about how new releases are named. Does alpha mean this
 > Mailman 3 is now ready for general use? Should I ask my host provider to
 > move us to it? I'm a bog-standard user so not ready for something that is
 > still going through early tests and doesn't have everything set up yet.

Unless you have special needs, or want to learn everything you always
wanted to know about Mailman but were afraid to ask, you don't want
your provider using alphas at all, and you personally probably don't
want to use a beta installation.

Just in case you really are "special", a little more about "alpha" and

"Alpha tests" are tests conducted by developers, more or less in
"laboratory conditions".  Alpha tests can be done at any time after
the first line of code is written.  Mailman 3 is in much better shape
than that, but it is still incomplete, and not ready for general use.
Doing an alpha test sometimes requires writing code to fake features
that haven't been written yet and things like that.  Alpha testing is
for people who think that's fun.

"Beta tests" are conducted in field conditions, by users (from your
point of view, you are not a user, your host provider is the user).
Since people are really using the software, as well as testing it, it
has to be fairly complete.  Mailman 3 is not yet at that stage.  Beta
tests sometimes uncover bad bugs that only happen under heavy load, or
in conditions that the alpha testers failed to imagine.  So beta
testers are either volunteers, developers, or perhaps ordinary users
who desperately need the new features provided (sort of like taking a
newly developed drug).  In any case, a beta tester should be prepared
to put in a certain amount of time and a minimum of skill in dealing
with surprises.  Few providers can afford the time and probably most
don't really have the skills (the skills needed are more like
development than administration).

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