Version Numbers

Salt uses a date based system for version numbers. Version numbers are in the format YYYY.MM.R. The year (YYYY) and month (MM) reflect when the release was created. The bugfix release number (R) increments within that feature release.


Prior to the 2014.1.0 release, the typical semantic versioning was still being used. Because of the rolling nature of the project, this did not make sense. The 0.17 release was the last of that style.

Code Names

To distinguish future releases from the current release, code names are used. The periodic table is used to derive the next codename. The first release in the date based system was code named Hydrogen, each subsequent release will go to the next atomic number <>.

Assigned codenames:

  • Hydrogen: 2014.1.0
  • Helium: 2014.7.0
  • Lithium: 2015.5.0
  • Beryllium: 2015.8.0
  • Boron: 2016.3.0
  • Carbon: 2016.11.0
  • Nitrogen: TBD
  • Oxygen: TBD


An example might help clarify how this all works.

It is the year 2020 and the current code name is Iodine. A release is ready to be cut and the month is June. This would make the new release number 2020.6.0. After three bug fix releases, the release number would be 2020.6.3.

After the release is cut, new features would be worked on under the Xenon code name and the process repeats itself.

Version numbers, Git and salt --version

The salt version, for programmers, is based on git describe and presented to end-users with salt --version.

Example arguments for git checkout
Argument Comment
develop Develop branch Actively developed new features
2016.11 Release branch Actively developed bug-fixes for 2016.11.* releases
v2016.11 Tag signaling the commit that the 2016.11.* releases are based on.
v2016.11.1 Tag signaling the commit that the 2016.11.1 release is based on.

Further reading on release branch and develop branch.

Influence of the git checkout argument on git describe
Checkout Describe Comment
v2016.11 v2016.11 (tag is fixed point in time)
2016.11 v2016.11.1-220-g9a1550d Commit of most recent tag in 2016.11
v2016.11.1 2016.11.1 (tag is fixed point in time)
develop v2016.11.1-1741-g10d5dec Commit of most recent tag in develop
Some details of v2016.11.1-220-g9a1550d (from git describe after git checkout 2016.11)
Part Comment
v2016.11.1 git describe finds the most recent tag on the 2016.11 branch
220 Commits on top of the most recent tag, relative to your local git fetch
gf2eb3dc 'g' + git SHA ("abbreviated name") of the most recent commit