Minetest.org and minetest.net both claim to be the stable branch of Minetest, similar to the FFmpeg vs. libav split. Expectedly, each site explains the issue differently. I can vouch for the fact that the 5.0.0 (originally 0.5) branch introduced many breaking changes, regardless of how minetest.net administratively labels it. They even backported some of the breaking changes into 0.4.17 (and possibly earlier “stable” versions, see below). The current release, 5.0.1, is administratively marked stable but doesn’t even have a recipe for stairs. As a contributor and server owner during this entire period (also going back to 0.4.13-git on the same server), I concur with minetest.org that minetest.net (at least since 0.5 on GitHub.com/minetest/minetest) is in technically-defined “fork” status (regardless of lack of “administrative,” or stated, fork status).
For over two years or so I ran a Minetest server owned by a high school, using the git (GitHub) version minetest.net’s Minetest 5.0.0 (previously called 0.5). I chose to use the git version since I am a developer and the server was not public, similar to why a mechanic may own a “fixer-upper.” However, I got in over my head and eventually had to be careful about updates and backups.
I spent the majority of my limited server maintenance time fixing other people’s mods (usually broken by minetest.net’s API changes on GitHub) and creating software to maintain the server, such as mass inventory editing and mass mod updating. Recently I started using Final Minetest, so now I can focus on improvements that I had planned starting about three years ago, but that I hadn’t implemented since I was instead dealing with the upstream issues.
enable_ in names of boolean variables, complete sentences, periods at the end of sentences, complete sentences, active voice, and verb tense consistency. The breaking changes and treatment of contributors who aren’t “insiders” has surely prevented Minetest from reaching critical mass following a surge in popularity that occurred around the release of Minetest 0.4.12 or earlier. This process was the initial concern that led to the split according to my conversations with minetest.org developers.
Minetest.org even had concerns with Minetest 0.4.16 (not just 0.4.17 as discussed above), so according to discussions with me, they started on 0.4.15 then painstakingly implemented the later commits, manually circumventing the bugs and compatibility breakages. The two-year process was difficult primarily because the minetest.net team technically forked but did not document the changes nor restrict them to the 0.5-5.0.0 branch. Another reason for the difficulty was the high number of bugs in the successive commits.
The Minetest.org team has been communicative and helpful toward server owners or users seeking to preserve worlds or builds, and toward me as a contributor. Even when they don’t have time, they will indicate their availability right away or in advance. Minetest.org has displayed a refreshing and distinguishing degree of professionalism. Final Minetest includes many mods in the included Bucket_Game, often fixing inconsistencies, shortcomings, and bugs in upstream functionality, coding style, and documentation. They also add many configuration options in case people don’t want certain additional features added by the increased set of included mods.
To provide administrative information regarding lineage though, I can also say have looked at removed IRC logs, at Wayback Machine pages, and at edited forum discussions–these sources indicate that minetest.net’s retelling of minetest.org’s history is highly redacted. Additionally, their one-on-one (to me) and public retellings are sparse, vague, and inconsistent with the source material. Even barring these issues with stated lineage, the technical changes are enough to make a convincing case for minetest.org’s releases being the direct successor to 0.4, the previous technically stable version.
I am not approving I am moderating comments at this time (though I can see them), as this is a controversial issue and I took great care to restrict this article to the technical aspects of the split. Since I can still read the comments using my admin login, I have already made one edit based on comments. Each side claims to be wronged, and I have studied the records in detail relating to those claims and have come to my own conclusions. However, that is beyond the scope of this article.