Elf Qrin's Cyber Lab

since 1999

Software Versions v2.11 r02mar2002
by Elf Qrin (www.ElfQrin.com)
Supervisor for the English language for v1.2 r13Mar2000: SirD
First release: 30Jan2000

Latest version available from: www.ElfQrin.com/docs/swvers.html

Versions of the software:

Project Start
Date of when the project started (before than starting to write the code).

First Release
Date of the first Released Version.

Alpha Version ("Alpha")
Very early version of a software. It may only have some basic engine functionality, but no output at all.

Beta Version ("Beta")
Early working version of a software. It may contain several bugs, and some features could still be unimplemented or under development, but yet it could still be released to the public.

Internal Beta
Version of a software intended for internal tests. It might be released to beta testers.

Leaked Beta
Version of the program intended for internal or beta testers use that went public, accidentally, or because it was stolen, or released by an unreliable tester.

Fake Release
A program released by someone who is not the original programmer (or software house), which is actually not a new version of a software at all. It's more likely to be a trojan, or less likely, only a joke.

Unofficial Version
It may be obtained by modifying and compiling source codes released to the Public Domain.

Release Candidate (it can be shortened as "RC")
Beta version, in which the author does not expect the beta testers to find any bugs, or have anything to improve on. Often their expectations are disappointed.

Released Version ("Version", or "Release". Usually shortened as "V" or "Vers", or "R")
Version went public.

Major Version
Last version of a software containing major changes and/or improvements, such as whole new features.

Minor Version
Mostly bugfixes, or widening of some existing features. It is usually placed after a point following the major version number, such as v2.1 . Note that statements like v2.11 doesn't usually mean "Major version 2, Minor version 11", but "Major version 2, Minor version 1, Revision 1" (and in fact reads as "two point one one"); this generally doesn't cause any confusion because it's unusual to release more than 9 minor versions before releasing a new major one.

Final Version ("Final")
It doesn't mean the author decided to stop developing this software, rather meaning that no minor versions or bugfixes are expected for the major version of this software. Thus, this is a very "risky" suffix to add after the version statement.

Early version
An old version of the software. One of the firsts released.

Earlier version
One of the versions of the software before the current one. It may be referred to, in order to bring attention to nasty bugs that have been fixed.

Previous version
Version of the software the precedes the current one.

Current version
Latest version of the software available.

Next version
The version of the software that will follow the current one.

Future version
One of the versions of the software that will follow the current one in the future. It might be refered to with regard to new features that the author intends to introduce.

Release date (it can be shortened as "R")
Date of the Released Version.

Revision (it can be shortened as "R" or "Rev")
Every time the code is modified and saved. It may be introduced since the first release, or since the last minor version, especially if version number is expressed as major.minor.revision (i.e. v4.1.3).

Every time the source code is compiled.

Forms in which the software is distributed:

Demo (short for "Demonstration")
A version of a software intended to show the main features or the general "look and feel" of it. It can be about software still under development, to show its potential, or it can be a limited version of a finished software you might be interested in buying.

Trial version (also called "trialware")
A fully working version of a software. It usually works for a certain time (tipically 30 days), or a certain number of runs. When it expires you have to (or you are supposed to) buy it to keep it.

Light version
A commercial version (thus not intended as a simple demo) of a software with less features than the Full version. It may actually be a Crippled version.

Full version
The version of a software with all of its features available and working.

Crippled version (also called "crippleware")
A version of a software with some features intentionally disabled, to create a cheaper version from a more expensive one. This kind of software can be easily (and probably illegaly) patched to get the full version.

Review copy
A copy of a software sent to (specialized) magazines by the software house or the author for reviewing purposes.

Unregistered copy
A copy of a shareware software that hasn't been registered (yet). Usage limitations may apply especially if there was a trial time and it has expired.

Registered copy
A registered copy of a shareware software.

A patch is a piece of object code that is patched into an existing executable program as a temporary fix of a bug until the next version of the software is released. A patch is not as comprehensive an update to the product as a service pack or service release.
A patch may or may not update the product or component revision levels (all of them update file dates and revision levels). In certain cases, patches are not comprehensively regression tested, so indiscriminate widespread installation may lead to destabilization and/or additional problems. In these situations, they are installed on a case-by-case basis. [MicroSoft definition]

Update or Upgrade
A patch that can be applied to an earlier version that will upgrade it to a more recent one. In some cases it can also be useful to downgrade, when the latest version has too many bugs, or it can't handle data created by an earlier version.

Service Pack (it can be shortened as "SP")
A service pack is a means by which product updates are distributed. It keeps the product current and extends and updates your computer's functionality so you'll never have to worry about becoming out of date. A service pack includes updates, system administration tools, drivers, and additional components. All are conveniently bundled for easy downloading. A service pack is cumulative; that is, each new service pack contains all the fixes in previous service packs, as well as any new fixes. [MicroSoft definition]

Service Release (it can be shortened as "SR")
A service release is a collection of bug fixes that have been introduced since a product's release. New feature updates are not included in a service release. A service release may not be cumulative. In other words, you may need to apply an earlier service release before you apply the most current one. [MicroSoft definition]

Terms relative to the software versions:

Backward compatibility (also termed "backward combatability" in the hacker's jargon)
The ability of a software to handle data created by a previous version of itself.

Break-even point
During the process of creation of a new language, it is the point in which the language used is effective enough to self-implement itself (i.e. you can create a C compiler in C).

Referred to a patch, it means it includes all the modifies applied by previously released patches.

Live Update (or Online Update)
Possibility to update the product online, from the Internet.

Lunatic Fringe
In the IBM jargon, the users that will surely accept a v1.0 release of a software: most users are in fact reluctant to use v1.0 of a software, because they fear it is full of bugs. This is why, when Ashton-Tate released the program dBase for the first time, they called it dBase II, this made people think it was a new release of an already existing program.

In the IBM jargon, a customer who can be relied upon to buy the latest version of an existing product, even in case he doesn't need at all the new features introduced in that release.

A tool that allows to "tweak", or "fine tune" another program, allowing the user to modify things normally not customizable from the program's settings or option menu.

All the -ware:
The following entries marked with *1 are from the Jargon File 4.2.0 31JAN2000, the ones marked with *2 are from the alt.comp.freeware FAQ.

Abandonware (also known as orphanware, or referred as retrogaming, classic games, vintage games)
Software, especially videogames, created many years ago, no more available in the stores, no longer supported or offered to the public by the original author or company, and often made for computers which aren't sold anymore as well (such as old 8bit computers or consoles). Such games are still requested by many people ("retrogamers"), mainly for historical or nostalgic reasons.
Neverthless, so called "abandonware" is still protected by copyright and it can't be spreaded, a very few coders and software houses agreed to release the rights of software they produced over ten year before, yet more often piracy is the only way to get such programs.

Adware or Bannerware
A shareware program you can use indefinitely without registering, but ad banners will be shown during its usage. An example of it is GetRight. Many Adware are also Spyware.

Annoyware *1
A type of shareware that frequently disrupts normal program operation to display requests for payment to the author in return for the ability to disable the request messages. The requests generally require user action to acknowledge the message before normal operation is resumed and are often tied to the most frequently used features of the software.

Backdoor Trojan Horse (also Wormhole, less common)
A specific kind of trojan horses, which became popular on the Internet. A malicious executable file disguised into another file is sent to the victim that will likely execute it in his system, installing a backdoor accessible by the malicious person who sent that file. The "infected" executable is nothing but a server controlled by a client application installed into the malicious person's computer, that can requests information stored into the remote computer.
The first one was "Back Orifice" created by "the Cult of the Dead Cow".

The author expects a beer from you if you liked his software, in case you'll ever meet him. This is the original beer-ware license statement by Poul-Hanning Kamp:

* ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42) * <phk@login.dkuug.dk> wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you * can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think * this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return. Poul-Hanning Kamp * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bloatware *1
Software that provides minimal functionality while requiring a disproportionate amount of diskspace and memory. Especially used for application and OS upgrades. This term is very common in the Windows/NT world. So is its cause.

Brochureware *1
Planned but non-existent product like vaporware, but with the added implication that marketing is actively selling and promoting it (they've printed brochures). Brochureware is often deployed as a strategic weapon; the idea is to con customers into not committing to an existing product of the competition's. It is a safe bet that when a brochureware product finally becomes real, it will be more expensive than and inferior to the alternatives that had been available for years.
MicroSoft's game console Xbox is a good example.

Cardware (also called Postcardware) *1
A kind of shareware that borders on freeware, in that the author requests only that satisfied users send a postcard of their home town or something. (This practice, silly as it might seem, serves to remind users that they are otherwise getting something for nothing, and may also be psychologically related to real estate "sales" in which $1 changes hands just to keep the transaction from being a gift).

Careware (also called Charityware or Donationware) *1
A variety of shareware for which either the author suggests that some payment be made to a nominated charity or a levy directed to charity is included on top of the distribution charge.

CDWare *2
This is software that is included on CDs that come with magazines.

A software mechanism for sorting content into categories for the purpose of decreasing accessibility of certain types of content, often designed to work hand-in-hand with local, national or global self-labeling or 3rd-party rating schemes.
Related links: https://w2.eff.org/Censorship/Censorware/

Copyleft *1
The copyright notice ("General Public License" or GPL) carried by GNU, EMACS, and other Free Software Foundation software, granting reuse and reproduction rights to all comers. By extension, any copyright notice intended to achieve similar aims. However, the GNU Public License is also called "General Public Virus" since requires that any tools incorporating copylefted code must be source distributed on the same anti-proprietary terms as GNU software. Thus it is alleged that the copyleft infects software generated with GNU tools, which may in turn infect ogher software that reuses any of its code. The Free Software Foundation's official position as of January 1991 is that copyright law limits the scope of the GPL to "programs textually incorporating significant amounts of GNU code", and that the "infection" is not passed on to third parties unless actual GNU source is transmitted. Nevertheless, widespread suspicion that the copyleft language is "boobytrapped" has caused many developers to avoid using GNU tools and the GPL. Changes in the language of the version 2.0 GPL did not eliminate this problem.

See the above definition of "Crippled version".

Crudware *1
Pejorative term for the hundreds of megabytes of low-quality freeware circulated by user's groups and BBS systems in the micro-hobbyist world. "Yet another set of disk catalog utilities for MS-DOS? What crudware!"

Similar to Cardware, but you have to send an e-mail to the author.

FRS (Free Distributable Software) or FDS (Free Distributable Sofware)
The term FRS was invented in 1995 after year of confusion about how to call software written to be passed around and shared. However, its use is not very common.
If a package of software is called "Free Distributable" then anyone is allowed to copy and spread this piece of creative work as long as he follows some rules. Most programmers want to make sure that no other persons make any profit from their work. Some want something in return for their efforts.

Firmware *1
Embedded software contained in EPROM or flash memory. It isn't quite hardware, but at least doesn't have to be loaded from a disk like regular software. Hacker usage differs from straight techspeak in that hackers don't normally apply it to stuff that you can't possibly get at, such as the program that runs a pocket calculator. Instead, it implies that the firmware could be changed, even if doing so would mean opening a box and plugging in a new chip. A computer's BIOS is the classic example, although nowadays there is firmware in disk controllers, modems, video cards and even CD-ROM drives.

Free software, often written by enthusiasts and distributed by users' groups, or via electronic mail, local bulletin boards, Usenet, or other electronic media. At one time, "freeware" was a trademark of Andrew Fluegelman, the author of the well-known MS-DOS comm program PC-TALK III. It wasn't enforced after his mysterious disappearance and presumed death in 1984.
In the modern use of this term, you are allowed to use this software free (without giving anything to the author), but still the author keeps the copyright (so it's different from Public Domain Software), that means you are not allowed to change the program in any way, especially remove the authors' name or the copyright note.

Fritterware *1
An excess of capability that serves no productive end. The canonical example is font-diddling software on the Mac (or animated menus on Windows); the term describes anything that eats huge amounts of time for quite marginal gains in function but seduces people into using it anyway.

You have to make a gift to the author. Such gift can be untold (and in this case could be anything) or specified in the user's licence or elsewhere.

Guiltware *1
A piece of freeware decorated with a message telling one how long and hard the author worked on it and intimating that one is a no-good freeloader if one does not immediately send the poor suffering martyr gobs of money.

The physical part of a computer. Everything you can "touch", such as keyboard, modem, monitor, and so on...

Liveware (also called meatware) *1
[Cambridge] Vermin. "Waiter, there's some liveware in my salad..."

Logic Bomb *1
Code surreptitiously inserted into an application or OS that causes it to perform some destructive or security-compromising activity whenever specified conditions are met.

Could be Emailware if you have to send an e-mail to the author, or Cardware, if you have to send him a snail mail postcard or letter.

Mockingbird *1
Software that intercepts communications (especially login transactions) between users and hosts and provides system-like responses to the users while saving their responses (especially account IDs and passwords).

Nagware *1
The variety of shareware that displays a large screen at the beginning or end reminding you to register, typically requiring some sort of keystroke to continue so that you can't use the software in batch mode. If such reminders keep appearing also during normal program operation, then it's called Annoyware.

Open Source
The author besides of the compiled binary executable files also releases the source code of his software, allowing the user to study it, and to modify or update it (restrictions may apply).
This term was invented in March 1998 following the Mozilla (Netscape) release to describe software distributed in source guaranteeing anybody rights to freely use, modify, and redistribute, the code.

Commercial software, sold in shops.

Phage *1
A program that modifies other programs or databases in unauthorized ways, especially one that propagates a virus or Trojan horse. The analogy, of course, is with phage viruses in biology.

The Pricelessware List is the compilation of the favorite Freeware programs of the readers of alt.comp.freeware . The brainchild of one of acf's regulars, Son of Spy , the list was intended to be a quick reference point for frequently requested Freeware programs. Initially dubbed "The Big List", it included programs old and new, well-known and obscure. The only requirement was that the program be the best Freeware program one could think of for each particular category.
The original Pricelessware List contained only the program names and download links. The individual pages including detailed program descriptions and Home Page links were developed by Genna Reeney.
The term "Pricelessware" was coined by another regular at the time of creation, Tiger? .
The Pricelessware List reflects the programs favored by members of alt.comp.freeware; it is not an exhaustive list of the best available Freeware. Most of the listings are well-known programs, but there are some hard-to-find goodies to be discovered. Although most categories will list only 1 or 2 selections, a few will list 3-4 programs.
Some of the detailed information for each program includes special notations. These indicate a specific issue with the program. It could be that the program is a LIGHT version, that the program requires registration before download or that the program suggested is the last Freeware version available.
The list is reviewed regularly for updated versions. New programs are sometimes added during the year. The list as a whole is reviewed once a year.
Finally, there are NO Adware/Spyware programs included in the Pricelessware List.

Psychedelicware *1
A program (also called display hack) with the same approximate purpose as a kaleidoscope: to make pretty pictures. Famous display hacks include munching squares, smoking clover, the BSD Unix rain(6) program, worms(6) on miscellaneous Unixes, and the X kaleid(1) program. Display hacks can also be implemented by creating text files containing numerous escape sequences for interpretation by a video terminal; one notable example displayed, on any VT100, a Christmas tree with twinkling lights and a toy train circling its base. The hack value of a display hack is proportional to the esthetic value of the images times the cleverness of the algorithm divided by the size of the code.

Public Domain Software (PD)
When the author puts the work in the "public domain", he gives up all copyrights and releases his work to be used and spreaded without any limitations. Most archives contain also the source-code of the programs ("open source" software) as examples of how to program in a certain language or how to solve a certain programming problem.
This kind of software was very common in the early '90s in the Amiga scene.

The author wants to receive a recipe.

A shareware/nagware software that takes a revenge on the user if a stolen password is entered when trying to register the software. Examples of revengeware are Nero Burning that asks the user to click several times on a request box and GetRight that doesn't allow the user to register anymore.

Registerware *2
The cost is that you must provide personal information via registration. Some people falsify the information which is requested. However, since the author has asked the price, falsifying what they are asking for is not ethical.

Shareware *1
A kind of freeware (sense 1) for which the author requests some payment, usually in the accompanying documentation files or in an announcement made by the software itself. Such payment may or may not buy additional support or functionality.

Shelfware *1
Software purchased on a whim (by an individual user) or in accordance with policy (by a corporation or government agency), but not actually required for any particular use. Therefore, it often ends up on some shelf.

Shovelware *1
1. Extra software dumped onto a CD-ROM or tape to fill up the remaining space on the medium after the software distribution (as the "bonus tracks" on audio CDs) it's intended to carry, but not integrated with the distribution. 2. A slipshod compilation of software dumped onto a CD-ROM without much care for organization or even usability.

Very generic term: any kind of data you can feed the computer with.

Spyware *2
Any software that installs components on your computer which allow companies and/or individuals to access your hard drive or spy on your surfing habits. The cost you pay is your privacy and/or security.

Theftware (also called Scumware. It may be referred as "smart tags", "supernodes", "top text")
Technology which defaces and alters the content of websites as they appear on the user's browsers for financial gain. These procedures do not obtain webmasters' prior written consent, do not notify them of these actions, and do not share any of their revenue with them. In some cases they insert "Adult and or Gambling" links in "PG" site which the author would never permit. These actions compromises website's visitor relationship and their reputation.

Treeware *1
Printouts, books, and other information media made from pulped dead trees.

See the above definition of "Trial version".

Trojan Horse *1
Coined by MIT-hacker-turned-NSA-spook Dan Edwards. A malicious security-breaking program that is disguised as something benign, such as a directory lister, archiver, game, or (in one notorious 1990 case on the Mac) a program to find and destroy viruses!

Vaporware *1
Products announced far in advance of any release (which may or may not actually take place). See also brochureware.

A special kind of recipeware: the author wants to receive vegetarian recepes (example: the game "Swarm" for Amiga).

Virus (pluralized as virii or viruses) *1
[from the obvious analogy with biological viruses, via SF] A cracker program that searches out other programs and "infects" them by embedding a copy of itself in them, so that they become Trojan horses. When these programs are executed, the embedded virus is executed too, thus propagating the `infection'. This normally happens invisibly to the user. Unlike a worm, a virus cannot infect other computers without assistance. It is propagated by vectors such as humans trading programs with their friends ("sex"). The virus may do nothing but propagate itself and then allow the program to run normally. Usually, however, after propagating silently for a while, it starts doing things like writing cute messages on the terminal or playing strange tricks with the display (some viruses include nice display hacks). Many nasty viruses, written by particularly perversely minded crackers, do irreversible damage, like nuking all the user's files.

Wetware *1
[wetware, prob. from the novels of Rudy Rucker] 1. The human nervous system, as opposed to computer hardware or software. "Wetware has 7 plus or minus 2 temporary registers." 2. Human beings (programmers, operators, administrators) attached to a computer system, as opposed to the system's hardware or software.

Warez *1
Widely used in cracker subcultures to denote cracked version of commercial software, that is versions from which copy-protection has been stripped. Hackers recognize this term but don't use it themselves. Worm *1
[from "tapeworm" in John Brunner's novel "The Shockwave Rider", via XEROX PARC] A program that propagates itself over a network, reproducing itself as it goes. A virus that spreads itself over a network, or the Internet (especially e-mail virii).


  • Since "R" may be used to shorten the Released Version, the Release date, and the Revision, it's preferable to shorten Released Version as "V", Release date as "R", and "Revision" as "Rev". It is possible to use lower case letters instead of upper case ones.
  • Some software creators use some of these common terms to infer a different meaning. For example, Mirabilis typically releases two versions of ICQ each year to the public: an Alpha version which contains new features not present in the one of the previous year, and later a Beta version, which fixes the bugs of the alpha version and may add less important features.