Update Tool

This guide explains how to maintain your Ballerina installation up to date with the latest patch and minor releases.

Understand Ballerina distributions

The Ballerina compiler is a software program, which validates the Ballerina source code and translates it to an executable program. Ballerina has a stable and production-ready official compiler called jBallerina, which targets the JVM.

Also, there is a plan to develop a native compiler called nBallerina in the future, which will target platforms such as Linux, Windows, and macOS.

Ballerina distribution is a term, which refers to these jBallerina and nBallerina compilers.

Get to know the release channels

Ballerina distributions are released via two different release channels at the moment. Swan Lake release channel is the primary release channel and the other one is the 1.x release channel. It is recommended to use Swan Lake release channel, if you are new to Ballerina.

Ballerina does not have a release channel yet for nightly builds that give you access to the latest perhaps unstable features.

Patch releases

Patch releases of Ballerina distributions contain bug fixes and fixes for critical stability and security related issues. Occasionally, you would see on-demand patch releases for 2201.0.x.

Example patch releases: 2201.0.1, 2201.1.1

Use the update tool

If you haven’t installed Ballerina yet, see Install Ballerina for the instructions.

Once the installation is complete, you would see the following directory structure inside the installation directory.

├── bin
│   └── bal
├── dependencies
│   └── jdk-11.0.8+10-jre
├── distributions
│   ├── ballerina-slalpha3
│   ├── ballerina-slalpha4
│   ├── jballerina-1.1.0
│   ├── jballerina-1.2.8
│   └── ballerina-version
└── lib
    └── ballerina-command-1.3.1.jar

The distributions is the directory, in which all your installed distributions are maintained. Only one distribution from the above list can be active at a given time.

Note: The Ballerina Tool delegates most of the user requests to the active distribution. The commands such as build, test, run, pull, and push are delegated to the active distribution, while the commands such as dist and version are handled by the tool itself.

E.g., when you invoke bal build, the Ballerina Tool dispatches this request to the active distribution.

You can change this active distribution at any time or manage it using the Ballerina Tool. However, first, you need to update the Ballerina Tool to its latest version.

Update the Ballerina tool

The bal update command updates the Ballerina Tool itself to the latest version. Ballerina Tool versions are independent of the Ballerina distribution versions. These tool updates are expected to be rare compared to distribution releases.

→ bal update
Fetching the latest tool version from the remote server...
Downloading ballerina-command-1.3.3 100% [=====================================================================================================================================================================] 1/1 MB (0:00:01 / 0:00:00) 
Updating environment variables
The ‘ballerina’ command was changed to ‘bal’. Please use ‘bal’ command from now onwards.
Ie : $ bal build
     $ bal dist list
     $ bal dist update
Tool version updated to the latest version: 1.3.3
Cleaning old files...
Update successfully completed

If you want to update the Ballerina distribution, use 'bal dist update'

Manage your Ballerina distributions

After updating the Ballerina Tool, you can use the bal dist command to manage Ballerina distributions. The bal help dist output below shows all the details about the bal dist command.

→ bal help dist
       bal dist - Manage Ballerina distributions

       bal dist
       bal dist <command> [<-h> | <--help>]
       bal dist <command> <args>

       Display details of all the commands that are available to install, update,
       and switch between Ballerina distributions from the patch and minor
       release channels.

       -h, --help
           Print the usage details of all commands.

       The below is a list of available subcommands:

       update     Update to the latest patch version of the active distribution
       pull       Fetch a distribution and set it as the active version
       use        Set a distribution as the active distribution
       list       List locally and remotely available distributions
       remove     Remove distributions in your local environment

Use 'bal help dist <command>' for more information on a specific command.

       Manage Ballerina distributions.
          $ bal dist

       Print the usage details of all commands.
          $ bal dist --help

       Print the usage details of the `bal dist update` command.
          $ bal help dist update

Most of these subcommands are self-explanatory. Therefore, the sections below introduce them briefly.

List all local and remote distributions

The bal dist list command lists the installed distributions in your local environment. It also lists the distributions available for you to download.

→ bal dist list
Distributions available locally: 

* 2201.0.0  

Distributions available remotely:

1.* channel

...To list all the previous distributions execute 'bal dist list -a'
  1.2.23 - latest

Swan Lake channel

* 2201.0.0 - latest

Use 'bal help dist' for more information on specific commands.

Note: The star (*) indicates the active distribution.

Remove a distribution

The bal dist remove <distribution> command allows you to delete a particular distribution from your local environment. If you have been updating Ballerina regularly, you may have accumulated many unused distribution versions. This command helps you to clean them up.

→ bal dist remove slalpha5
Distribution 'slalpha5' successfully removed

Update to the latest preview/patch version

The bal dist update command updates your active distribution to the latest patch version.

→ sudo bal dist update
Fetching the latest patch distribution for 'ballerina-slalpha4' from the remote server...
Fetching the 'slalpha5' distribution from the remote server...
Downloading slalpha5 100% [================================================================================================================================================================================] 319/319 MB (0:01:21 / 0:00:00) 

Fetching the dependencies for 'slalpha5' from the remote server...
Dependency 'jdk-11.0.8+10-jre' is already available locally
Successfully set the latest patch distribution 'slalpha5' as the active distribution

Note: If the active distribution in your environment is slp4, it bumps to the next Swan Lake Preview version, which is slp5, and updates to it.

Pull a specific distribution

The bal dist pull <distribution> command downloads a particular distribution and stores it in your local environment. It also sets the fetched distribution as the active distribution.

→ bal dist pull slalpha4
Fetching the 'slalpha4' distribution from the remote server...
Downloading slalpha4 100% [================================================================================================================================================================================] 287/287 MB (0:01:26 / 0:00:00) 
Fetching the dependencies for 'slalpha4' from the remote server...
Dependency 'jdk-11.0.8+10-jre' is already available locally
'slalpha4' successfully set as the active distribution

Change the active distribution

The bal dist use <distribution> command sets a particular distribution version as the active one.

→ bal dist use slalpha3
'slalpha3' successfully set as the active distribution