Pentaho Community Edition (CE) software is available in three forms: source code that you can build yourself, continuous integration (CI) builds and released builds.
Released builds are official builds, compiled and assembled by Pentaho CM at a predetermined point in time. Released builds are hosted on SourceForge.net. Pentaho software is hosted under four different SourceForge projects: pentaho, mondrian, jfreereport and weka. Released builds are identified as Milestone, Release Candidate or stable.
Milestone (M) builds occur throughout the development cycle when a significant set of features or bugs have been implemented. The build will be stable enough for testing those new changes but may have introduced new bugs or instabilities to other parts of the code. Milestones give the community an opportunity to provide feedback on a feature while there is still time to change it during that dev cycle. Milestone builds should never be put into production.
Pre Release builds occur at the end the development cycle when a significant set of features or bugs have been implemented. The build is stable enough for testing those new changes but the full testing that goes into a Release Candidate has not been completed. Pre Release builds are only used when there is a compelling reason to get the release out to the community for feedback prior to the code cutoff period prior to RC testing. Pre Release builds should never be put into production but can be used for POCs and prototypes.
Release candidate (RC) builds are much more stable then milestones and come at the end of the development cycle. There can be as many RC builds as needed until the release is considered stable. RC builds are ready for full testing and give the community time to find critical bugs or usability issues before the release is marked stable. RC builds should not be put into production but can be used for acceptance testing or prototyping.
Stable builds are posted after a series of RC builds and when the consensus is that the release has no blocking issues. The stable build is usually the last CE build in a release. Pentaho does not post patch builds for CE except in extreme cases. If you are going to put a CE release into production, you will want to use a stable build.
CI builds are managed by Hudson, the continuous integration tool used by Pentaho. Hudson automatically rebuilds the project after new code for that project is checked into version control. It verifies that the project can still be compiled and assembled. The dynamic nature of CI builds makes the quality of any specific build unpredictable. You should only be using CI builds if you know that a bug or feature was implemented in a specific CI build and you want to test it. From time to time, a known stable CI build may be identified and made generally available to the community for testing purposes. The Hudson server is located at ci.pentaho.com.
Source code is available from our Subversion (SVN) repository (Perforce for mondrian) and may be freely downloaded. Information about how to get the code can be found here. Instructions for building a project can be found on that project's home page. Source code is continuously being modified in the trunk and may not compile for short periods of time while other supporting files are checked in. Branches and tagged snapshots are available for building the source from a known state. Building from source is advanced and should be performed by someone with development experience.
Enterprise Edition (EE) evaluation software may be downloaded from http://www.pentaho.com/download. Pentaho Enterprise Editions extend Pentaho's best-in-class open source business intelligence (BI) capabilities with additional software and services designed to help you and your organization: achieve BI success; save time resources and money; and mitigate risk. Although the Pentaho Community Edition is high quality community supported software, you are responsible for your own success which will require time, effort and a small amount of technical ability. If you prefer to have a relationship with a well known vendor who will answer questions over the phone, help you during your evaluation and support you in production; an EE evaluation may be a better option for you.