Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Using Ruby 1.8.7 for fun and, uh, fun

I am enjoying Ruby and trying to widen its use in places I work. My hope is that providing useful code that works well and is easy to get into will encourage others to use Ruby. However, because I work on servers I have to use the installed Ruby version, 1.8.7.

When you post a question on the Ruby IRC channel or the "Ruby-Talk" e-mail list it is helpful to list the version of Ruby you are using. With Ruby 1.8.7 people often tell me to upgrade. Once I tell them the cost of upgrade isn't worth the benefit they often give reasons to upgrade. "Unsupported", "insecure", etc. After explaining this half a dozen times I wanted to share the issue clearly. Maybe I'm wrong. Here are the reasons to upgrade from Ruby 1.8.7 ("It") and the reasons I don't find the upgrade worth the effort.

It is unsupported. 
  True. However, It is the default Ruby on RHEL 6. The RHEL 5 and 7 installs do not have versions supported by the Ruby community either. Since most of the North American Enterprise Linux installs are RHEL, the Ruby Community loses a large and paying market by not supporting It.

It is insecure.
  Maybe true. However, almost all software has bugs and insecurities. It is up to me to write solid code, but when businesses use Java (tm) and Microsoft Windows (tm) they are accepting a greater level of risk than what little code I produce.

I won't encourage the use of an EOL Ruby version.
  Your call. I've talked with the authors of two Ruby books and both of them were very gracious, helpful, and encouraging. There are nice people in the Ruby community who will help those of us using It.

You lose new features.
  True. However, I'm new to Ruby and OOP, I'm still learning the old features. Time spent installing a new Ruby means I have less time to learn Ruby.

You should still upgrade.
  I work in large businesses with hundreds, or thousands, of servers. Please provide a cost-benefit analysis that proves your case. Even better, please sign a five year contract to do the upgrades gratis so I can focus on what the businesses ask for.


If I missed a good reason to upgrade, please share it with me.