HexChat 2.14.0 has finally been released. The reason for the long delay since the last release was that there was no longer a dedicated Windows maintainer so the builds stagnated and needed a lot of love to get everything relatively up to date. Overall though this is mostly a bug fix release with no major features but there have been a few behind the scenes changes that are worth discussing.
This is the first ever release where HexChat has 4 upstream installation methods where in the past it only had Windows installers.
As you may have noticed there is now a HexChat package on the Microsoft Store. Microsoft now has a SKU of Windows (10 S) that cannot install any applications outside of the store by default. This was brought to my attention by a user requesting a store version so I tried it out and everything largely went smoothly so I released it.
You may also notice it has a purchase option there; I took this opportunity to expose an easy way for users to “donate” to the project but sadly Microsoft has no actual donation option and it must be a purchase. Do not worry though as you can install it without paying indefinitely with all features they just refer to it as a trial.
It is worth noting this version is not exactly identical to the normal release in that it doesn’t ship Perl or Python support which I would like to investigate adding in the future. It also (sometimes?) uses a more obscure configuration directory so it is a bit more inconvenient to to fiddle with config files but that is more of a design fault of HexChat that it ever requires the user interacting with that directory directly.
In recent times there have also been a lot of buzz about solutions to making portable binaries for Linux including Flatpak. These are built and hosted on the Flathub store. This is my recommended method for installing on Linux as I can directly support it, reproduce issues with it easily, and update it in minutes.
The other big solution in this space is Snap. While I did make a HexChat Snap I do not recommend it for most users as it has some bugs unique to it, is less portable than and uses more space than Flatpak, and it is the more complex and difficult format for me to support. It does have a single advantage keeping it around which is that Ubuntu users can see this in the store out of the box so it is the only real method to get up to date versions to these users who may not know any better.
This release also converted the project from Autotools to Meson.
This decision will likely be controversial to some as the old method would run without
Python 3 but that isn’t a particularly crazy dependency IMO. The actual change here
that will impact older distros is that we now require a very recent
outside of that the transition seems to have gone very smoothly and is a pleasure
to work with compared to autotools and it can eventually replace hand maintained
Visual Studio projects on Windows.