How do I check which version of Mastodon is running on a server? What are Mastodon forks?

Each server is totally independent, and does updates on its own schedule. You may want to check which version of Mastodon a server is running, as this can let you know whether a new feature is available on that server. To check a server’s version:

  1. Go to that server’s website (you don’t need to log in)
  2. If you’re on the desktop website, the server’s Mastodon version will be written at the bottom left corner of the screen. If you’re on the mobile website, click the ⋯ icon and scroll to the bottom of the page.
  3. The version number will look something like “v2.2.4” or similar. It may have some extra letters if it’s a customised or experimental version of Mastodon, but the numbers should indicate which version it is based on.

How do I find out the latest version number for Mastodon?

The Mastodon developers’ Github page has the latest version number written at the top of its releases page ⧉.

(If you’re technical that page also lets you browse through the details of the latest version, but you don’t need to do this.)

The server has “glitch” or “hometown” written on its version number. What does this mean?

Mastodon is free open source software, which means anyone with the necessary programming knowledge can create their own customised version, known as a “fork”. Two of the most popular and well-established forks are Glitch Mastodon ⧉ and Hometown Mastodon ⧉. If you see these names in the version number, it means your server is running one of these forks.

There’s nothing wrong with a server running on a fork of Mastodon, in fact it often brings more features. Forks and originals aren’t rivals or competitors, they can contribute to each other in both directions. Many features of standard Mastodon originally appeared on the Glitch fork. Whichever fork your server is running, it’s still compatible with standard Mastodon and you’ll be able to follow and interact with people from standard Mastodon servers.

Standard Mastodon is often called “Vanilla Mastodon” to distinguish it from Glitch Mastodon, Hometown Mastodon and other forks.

The server’s version number has lots of letters and numbers and the word “alpha” or “beta”. What does this mean?

There are always two latest versions of Mastodon: the stable release version and the experimental version.

The vast majority of servers run the stable release version, as it has been extensively tested and is known to work well. However, some servers prefer to have the very latest cutting edge experimental features, and they will run the experimental version which is usually labelled differently. In software development, the words “alpha”, “beta” and “nightly” usually indicate an experimental version that isn’t yet ready for release. Experimental version numbers may look even more complicated such as “alpha.0+pr-28693-384ec56”.

If your server is running a test version of Mastodon, you will probably see new features ahead of servers running the release version. However, features on the experimental version may disappear without warning, or not work properly, or break other features, and that’s why most servers use the release version instead.

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