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Third JRuby 1.6 Release Candidate Should Be the Last

The JRuby community announced this week the release of the JRuby 1.6.0 RC3 -- and promised that this third release candidate would be the last. 

"We are going to seriously try and make this our last RC before going final," the company wrote in the JRuby blog announcing the release. "Unless we find something devastatingly bad we will release 1.6.0 and then try and spin smaller point builds every 2-3 weeks to address reported problems."

This release candidate of the 100 percent Java implementation of the Ruby programming language is mostly about an unexpected inflow bug reports, Thomas Enebo and Nick Sieger told me this morning.

"One of the major themes of JRuby 1.6 is adding solid Ruby 1.9 support," Enebo said. "In JRuby you can run in either Ruby 1.8 mode or Ruby 1.9 mode. We got a surprising number of bug reports on our 1.9 support, so we decided to sort of re-circled the wagons and address those reports and make 1.9 support really solid."

Enebo and Sieger, of course, are two of the core JRuby contributors; the other one is Charles Nutter. They all work at Engine Yard, the primary commercial supporter of JRuby, which snatched them up in back in July 2009. Their move to Engine Yard "means we've got a dedicated Ruby and Rails company backing our project," Nutter wrote in his blog said at the time.

"Another surprise for us was how many people are testing 1.9 features," Sieger said. "Since there's no formal specification of the Ruby language, I think it takes lots of developers trying it out on their own."

JRuby 1.6 also makes Windows a primary supported platform with the addition of a continuous integration platform.

"We're now dog-fooding on Windows several days a week," Enebo said, "and we think that it's a decent OS for JRuby use now -- even to the point where we've begun implementing Windows-specific libraries."

This JRuby release is the biggest one to date, Sieger said, and this release candidate involved more than 2,000 commits and resolves 265 issues.

"Committers are definitely the life blood of the project," Enebo said.

The list of what the JRuby teams calls "notable changes" since RC2 include:

•New readable backtrace format
•Easier to embed in OSGi environment
•Fixed regression which slowed down jar-based requires
•Add native JFFI bits for x86_64 SunOS (Solaris)
•More platforms with pre-built C extension support
•New jruby-core and jruby-stdlib maven artifacts
•More 1.9 compatibility fixes

Enebo and Sieger said they expect the final release of JRuby 1.6 next Tuesday (March 14). Only three problems that might have kept the release from going final have been reported since RC3 was released, they said, and they plan to put out point releases every two to three weeks for the foreseeable future.

"We could really go GA right now," Enebo said, "but we're giving it a couple more days."

Posted by John K. Waters on March 11, 2011