Michael Schwern, Perl clown and maintainer of ExtUtils::MakeMaker and Test::Simple has announced that MakeMaker and Test::Simple will no longer support Perl 5.005. This is extremely significant because those two distributions are important pieces of Perl’s upgrade infrastructure.
Finally, I’m coming around to chromatic’s philosophy: why are we [worrying] about the effect of upgrades on users who don’t upgrade? Alan Burlson’s comments about Solaris vs Linux are telling: if you’re worried more about supporting your existing users then finding new ones, you’re dead.
My argument has always been very simple. There have been nearly a dozen stable releases of Perl since the release of Perl 5.005 in 1998. Anyone still running code that old obviously is not interested in upgrading to modern, supported versions of Perl. That’s the one conclusion you can draw about them. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to write new versions of Perl libraries and applications for them because they don’t upgrade their software.
My personal oldest supported version is Perl 5.6.2, released just over four years ago, but with Perl 5.10 coming in the next month or so, I might drop official support for anything older than Perl 5.8.1 (which, amusingly enough, is a couple of months older than Perl 5.6.2).
I’m all for software stability, and I’m glad that Perl 5.005 is a high-quality product that’s still viable almost a decade after its release, but we have fixed a few bugs and added a few nice features in the intervening years. I’d like to take advantage of some of that new code sometime. Kudos to Schwern for seeing the light.