MySQL versions are identified by the attributes alpha, beta, gamma, and production:
• Alpha means that the version is in the throes of the development process and that new functions and even incompatible changes are to be expected. Although an alpha version is not published until it contains no known errors, it is highly probable that many undiscovered errors still lurk within. Loss of data during testing of an alpha version is quite possible! Alpha versions are of interest only to developers who wish to try out the latest features of MySQL.
• Beta means that this version is largely complete, but it has not been thoroughly tested. Major changes are not expected.
• Gammameans that the beta versions have become more or less stable. The goal now is to discover errors and resolve them.
• Production or Generally Available (GA) means that MySQL developers have the impression that the version is mature and stable enough that it can be used for mission-critical purposes. According to the MySQL documentation, in production versions, only corrections, and no new functionality, are to be expected. However, this has not always held true in the past, and even with stable versions substantial changes have been made. Of particular note is the case of MySQL 3.23.n. After the version had been declared stable (3.23.32), there came general support for InnoDB and BDB tables (3.23.34), and later, integrity rules for InnoDB tables (3.23.44). Furthermore, many minor extensions were introduced. As a rule, MySQL developers are pleased with such extensions, but at the same time, compatibility problems among different production versions can arise. In practice, this means that a new MySQL version (that is, n.n.0) always has the status alpha. With higher version numbers, the status rises to beta, gamma, and finally, production. Normal MySQL users should use exclusively MySQL versions that have the status production. If you are developing web applications, you should find out which version your Internet service provider is using. (Since Internet service providers are concernced with maintenance and stability, they are not generally keen on using the latest version, preferring earlier versions, which may not contain many of the functions of the newer versions.)