What is Pale Moon's versioning scheme like?

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pale Moon browser and their answers.
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What is Pale Moon's versioning scheme like?

Post by Moonchild » 2014-11-12, 11:45

What is Pale Moon's versioning scheme like?

Since there seems to be regular confusion about Pale Moon's versioning scheme (which version Pale Moon carries and what it means), this FAQ entry will hopefully clarify the situation.
Pale Moon's versioning scheme has changed over the course of the 5 years it's been around, so I'll explain stage by stage, with the latest (current) situation first:

Pale Moon 25 and later

The current versioning scheme is completely independent from Firefox, and has "slowed down" considerably compared to the rapid release versioning scheme that Mozilla and Google currently use. Pale Moon has gone back to a properly feature-driven versioning scheme, meaning that the version number depends on actual changes in the browser, and not on some arbitrary calendar date.
The high base version has been kept to not cause unnecessary confusion among users, although for the people who still think Pale Moon's version is linked to Firefox versions, this may be slightly confusing. Alternatives to this (renaming the browser, rebooting the version number, etc.) were considered but found to be less desirable than the current way of doing things.

So, to clarify the current scheme: the general format is {milestone}.{significant update}.{trivial/security update}

A {milestone} is a version with a large change in code or operation of the browser. Milestones will be few and far between and only happen when major parts of the browser have changed. As an example, the graphics back-end changes for 24.6 would have been reason for a new milestone. The GUID change in version 25 is most definitely a milestone.
A {significant update} is a version with significant changes in code, added/updated features, etc. These updates can be very extensive or only updating a single feature, but in general do change the way the browser behaves or interacts with the Web. Most "normal" updates fall in this category. Major releases like this will normally require things like language packs to be updated.
A {trivial/security} update is a version that either addresses small changes/bugfixes in the browser or is released to provide security updates only. The changes in these versions are relatively small, but if they are security updates they are important. It is recommended to always install these so-called "point releases" as soon as they are released.

So, to be clear once again here: Pale Moon 25 is not based on Firefox 25. It's not based on any specific version of Firefox anymore, is an individually developed fork with a hybrid of code from many different versions of Firefox 24 and beyond as well as plenty of own code, and should be seen in its own right, with its own versions, based on its own release schedule and features.

Pale Moon 24 series

The Pale Moon 24 series ran from September 2013 to October 2014.
This series received versions mostly after the Firefox ESR releases the base code was taken from, although there was constant individual development going on as Pale Moon and Firefox grew apart in this turbulent year. This versioning scheme was, despite its seeming tandem with the ESR version numbers, very similar to the currently-used individual versioning scheme mentioned above with new significant updates and added own code each release. It just so happened that the most convenient times for new releases came around the same time as batches of security updates which were disclosed at the time of Firefox releases.

The reason the major version was kept at 24 was solely to maintain proper compatibility for Firefox extensions. At the time, increasing the version would have created a discrepancy between what extensions expect and what Pale Moon supplies in APIs and user interface. Even now, in the current 25+ versions, Pale Moon still tells the Firefox add-ons site that it is a "version 24.9" to make sure only compatible extensions are offered by that add-ons site.

Pale Moon 12 through 20

Pale Moon versions 12 through 20 saw "jumps" in versions to maintain a version number on the browser that was "closest to" the version of Firefox with the same version, both in terms of features and in terms of extension compatibility. These jumps coincided with so-called "rebasing" of Pale Moon on similarly versioned Firefox code.
During this time, the amount of individual Pale Moon code slowly increased and was ported over with each jump, meaning, for example "Pale Moon 20 was based on Firefox 20 with individual Pale Moon code changes on top".

Pale Moon prior to version 12

Prior to version 12, there was a slow start of more significant individual coding, mostly smaller changes that would not require significant work to port over or re-implement. The main focus here was providing users with an "as efficient as possible version of Firefox" that would otherwise keep close pace with Mozilla's releases, as the general direction of the browser at this time was still very much in line with Pale Moon's own goals.

Pale Moon "legacy" 3.5 and 3.6

Pale Moon "legacy" versions based on Gecko 1.9 kept synchronous versions with Firefox, with the exception of extended support of 3.6 to 3.6.32 at the tail end of this branch.
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