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XEmacs 21.4.0 "Solid Vapor" is Released

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From: "Stephen Turnbull, XEmacs 21.4 Release Manager" <stephen@xemacs.org>
To: xemacs-announce@xemacs.org
Subject: XEmacs 21.4.0 "Solid Vapor" is released.

* XEmacs 21.4.0 "Solid Vapor" is released.

XEmacs 21.4.0 contains a large number of improvements and extensions
to the current stable version, XEmacs 21.1.14, and continues the
policy of maintaining compatibility with the mainline GNU Emacs in the
Lisp programming language and packages.  XEmacs 21.4.0 includes two
major new features:

  o "Native widgets" are supported on windowing platforms ("plain"
    X11, Motif, MS Windows, and GTK+).  GUI components, as simple as
    buttons or as complex as a MS Windows file selector, can be
    incorporated in XEmacs user interfaces.  The programming interface
    treats them as a subtype of the primitive Lisp glyph type, the
    fundamental API for handling images and displaying text in XEmacs.

  o The GTK+ toolkit is supported for X11.  This includes the GNOME
    widget set and the advanced GUI design toolkit, libglade.  GTK+ is
    considered experimental in the 21.4 series, and will not be built
    in by default.  It is not yet fully integrated with the "native
    widget" support, and improvements are constrained to minimize
    impact on the rest of XEmacs.  GTK+ is quite functional, but still
    unstable, and developers interested in working on GTK+ support
    probably should concentrate on the development series (version 21.5).

A few examples of other significant new features include:

  o Extended database support, including improvements to the LDAP and
    Berkeley DB support, and new wrappers for Postgresql and Berkeley
    DB version 3.

  o Support for EsounD.

  o Better support for MS Windows, including printer support and a new
    "net installer".  Standard Windows-style installers (Wise and
    Installshield) are planned for integration in 21.4.x updates.

For more information about user-visible changes, see etc/NEWS (the
definitive source), and the release page,


For general information about XEmacs, the developers, and the user
community, see our home page,

* XEmacs 21.4.0 is "gamma" software. 

Besides the usual "no warranty" disclaimer (see etc/WARRANTY, sections
10 and 11), we are now experimenting with a level of stability
intermediate between "beta" and "stable", dubbed "gamma".  At this
point all the developers and most of our beta testers trust the 21.4
code base with all their editing needs.  However, we recognize that
(a) these users are not fully representative of the user community,
(b) there is a "point oh" effect, and (c) there have been personnel
changes (not least, an inexperienced release manager).  For all these
reasons, for users who absolutely must minimize risk, we continue to
recommend the 21.1 series.

However, almost users will get very high reliability from XEmacs 21.4,
and in return, access to many new features and improved functionality.
No new destabilizing code will be added; each release in the 21.4
series should be strictly more stable and bug-free than the preceding
one.  We also recommend the 21.4 series to distribution packagers
(such as Linux distributions and the open source BSD "ports" or
"packages" maintainers) for their "testing" and "development"

Since this is a new format, we don't have much directly relevant
experience.  However, experience with past releases suggests that we
can hope to promote XEmacs 21.4 to "stable" status after about 6

* Getting XEmacs 21.4.0 
XEmacs 21.4.0 is available in source form, including pre-compiled 
"core" Lisp libraries and pre-built Info files, from ftp.xemacs.org
and mirrors (http://www.xemacs.org/Download/index.html#mirror_index).


for general information about downloading XEmacs.  (It will be updated
to reflect the latest information about 21.4.0 shortly; our Webmaster
is taking a well-earned vacation.)  For those wedded to their old
command-line FTP client, the following URLs may be useful:

or build the Lisp and Info from source, saving download time, with

In either case, you need the "packaged Lisp" for more than the most
basic functionality.  You may use packages previously installed for
use with XEmacs 21.1 or later without change.  For new installations,
the "SUMO" distribution of (almost) all packaged Lisp is available as


The latter should be installed only if you are building XEmacs with
the MULE multilingual support; it contains Lisp files that cannot be
correctly loaded by a unibyte XEmacs.  See README.packages.

XEmacs 21.4.0 is also available via anonymous CVS.  To get the latest
in the 21.4 series, check out (or update) with the "release-21-4"
tag.  This should be sufficient for almost all users; from now on
patches will be carefully screened to ensure that every release is
more stable than the last.  If for some reason you specifically want
the "point oh" release, use the "r21-4-0" tag.

See http://cvs.xemacs.org/ for general instructions on getting XEmacs
via anonymous CVS.

Binary kits are not available at this time.  Binaries for the MS
Windows platform are planned for availability in the near future.
The announcement of the ``netinstaller'' was premature; these binaries
are not yet available.

When the binaries become available, there will be a further announcement.

We are considering providing binary kits for important platforms that
lack independent distributors (a la the Linux "distributions" or the
FreeBSD "ports" maintainers) for at least some releases once 21.4 is
accepted as "stable".  Volunteers should contact the Release Manager,
"Stephen Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>, and let me know what
platforms you can build for.

* Important notice for CVS users:

The CVS Repository structure has been rationalized thanks to Michael
Sperber.  The development code is now on the trunk.  There are several
active branches, each with per-release tags of the form "r21-4-0"
(major-minor-patchlevel), and a branch tag which always gives the tip:

Branch                     Branch tag    Release tag
Development trunk (21.5):  none          r21-5-xx
"Gamma" branch (21.4):     release-21-4  r21-4-xx
Stable branch (21.1):      release-21-1  r21-1-xx

The trunk has a special "moving" release tag, "r21-5-latest-beta".
This is updated with each release to reflect the most recent beta
release.  (The Beta Release Maintainer makes some effort to ensure
that beta releases at least build; there is no way to make such a
guarantee for the tip of the trunk in our development model.)

N.B.  Until a 21.5 beta is released, the trunk will show a version of
21.2.46 "Urania", because that is the last beta in the series.  (cvs
diff'ing the trunk against Urania will show some differences, but
version.sh hasn't changed yet.)  "r21-5-latest-beta" was initialized
to reflect this state of affairs.

There is no "moving" release tag for stable versions; just use "-r
release-21-1" if you need the current release of version 21.1, and "-r
release-21-4" for 21.4.

To update an existing CVS checkout to the trunk (development), use the
-A flag to cvs update, or simply cvs checkout with no -r flag.  To
checkout or update to one of the other branches, use the -r flag with
the appropriate branch tag.  http://cvs.xemacs.org/ has more
information.  It is in the process of being updated, so some
information about tags may be inaccurate for a few days.

* Apologies

The targeted release date of March 1 was too aggressive, resulting in
6 weeks' delay.  We hope you find it worth the wait.

No, I'm not using the latest and greatest XEmacs to write this.  Next

April 16, 2001
XEmacs 21.4 Release Manager
Stephen J. Turnbull <stephen@xemacs.org>

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
_________________  _________________  _________________  _________________
What are those straight lines for?  "XEmacs rules."

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