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11.2.6 Gnus Development

Gnus is developed in a two-phased cycle. The first phase involves much discussion on the development mailing list ‘ding@gnus.org’, where people propose changes and new features, post patches and new back ends. This phase is called the alpha phase, since the Gnusae released in this phase are alpha releases, or (perhaps more commonly in other circles) snapshots. During this phase, Gnus is assumed to be unstable and should not be used by casual users. Gnus alpha releases have names like “Oort Gnus” and “No Gnus”. See Gnus Versions.

After futzing around for 10–100 alpha releases, Gnus is declared frozen, and only bug fixes are applied. Gnus loses the prefix, and is called things like “Gnus 5.10.1” instead. Normal people are supposed to be able to use these, and these are mostly discussed on the ‘gnu.emacs.gnus’ newsgroup. This newgroup is mirrored to the mailing list ‘info-gnus-english@gnu.org’ which is carried on Gmane as ‘gmane.emacs.gnus.user’. These releases are finally integrated in Emacs.

Some variable defaults differ between alpha Gnusae and released Gnusae, in particular, mail-source-delete-incoming. This is to prevent lossage of mail if an alpha release hiccups while handling the mail. See Mail Source Customization.

The division of discussion between the ding mailing list and the Gnus newsgroup is not purely based on publicity concerns. It's true that having people write about the horrible things that an alpha Gnus release can do (sometimes) in a public forum may scare people off, but more importantly, talking about new experimental features that have been introduced may confuse casual users. New features are frequently introduced, fiddled with, and judged to be found wanting, and then either discarded or totally rewritten. People reading the mailing list usually keep up with these rapid changes, while people on the newsgroup can't be assumed to do so.

So if you have problems with or questions about the alpha versions, direct those to the ding mailing list ‘ding@gnus.org’. This list is also available on Gmane as ‘gmane.emacs.gnus.general’.

Some variable defaults differ between alpha Gnusae and released Gnusae, in particular, mail-source-delete-incoming. This is to prevent lossage of mail if an alpha release hiccups while handling the mail. See Mail Source Customization.