What is Beta and Stable, and why do they have different versions of Enlightenment?

This may not be a frequently asked question, but I frequently asked myself, read a bit and then asked some more on this forum. To try to understand what was going on with the different Elive versions and why different versions of Enlightenment were used and how come Elive beta has Enlightenment-16 (E16) and stable has E17 as it’s desktop environment (DE), and why Elive stable is based on Debian Wheezy and beta is based on the newer Debain Buster? And does Beta mean ‘testing’?

I found this very confusing, probably because I am easily confused, but partially because it is actually a bit confusing at first. So, in case anyone else new to Elive is also wondering about this, I thought I’d share in the FAQ what @triantares patiently explained to me.

Elive Version Enlightenment Version Debian Version Architecture Status
Stable 3.0 E17 (optional E16) Wheezy 32 bit only E17 is no longer being maintained. Wheezy is nearing End of life (EOL)
Beta 3.8.12 E16 Buster 32 and 64 bit E16 is still being maintained and is super stable.
Stable 4.0 E16 and E24 (or the latest stable E at the time of release) Buster 32 and 64bit Work in progress

There are a number of factors which resulted in the versioning that we see in the table above. Elive Stable 3.0.x being 32bits stopped being developed, E17 was deprecated and Enlightenment in general (specifically E19+) was a moving target, so it makes more sense to use the very stable E16 while there is still a lot of work to get a stable 64 bit system.

This might be obvious to most people, but If anyone else has trouble understanding the versioning logic of Elive, I hope this helps.

If you want more information on how the actual versioning numbers are used, the following post by Thanatermesis explains this. Elive versioning numbers assigned to releases