|Functionally, they are the same thing.
They are meant to describe an updated component or collection of components (JARs, DLL's, .so's, etc...) which fixes 1 or more bugs to an existing version of SE.
The main difference is in how the updates are distributed to our customers and the version numbering scheme that they use:
- A patch will typically contain a small # of bug fixes or features (1 or 2), typically for just 1 customer. Patches are placed on the New Atlanta FTP server only.
- A hotfix is a "rollup" of 1 or more patches and may be thought of as an officially announced "super-patch", which may be of interest to a wider range of our customers. Hotfixes are placed both on the New Atlanta website and our FTP server.
After the 1st SE 6.0 hotfix was released (the Oct 2008 hotfix) it was decided to change the version numbering "scheme" used by ServletExec patches. This was done to more closely mimick how patches are delivered with our BlueDragon Server JX product (now that the BDJX Server 7.1 codebase has been joined to the SE 188.8.131.52_22 codebase).
Patches also provide an easier means of delivering updates to those customers that need them, without unnecessarily troubling those that don't.
- Prior to SE 6.0, a patch would use the letter 'p' as part of its version designation.
The last patches that were made for SE 5.0, 4.2, and 4.1.1 were:
5.0p06, 4.2p20, 4.1.1p27
When it was time to create the next bugfix/update/patch, it was decided to begin using the term hotfix instead. So the first hotfixes that were made for SE 5.0, 4.2, and 4.1.1 were:
5.0.0.07, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11
and those hotfixes include all the updates/bugfixes that were in their "patch" predecessors, along with some new updates/bugfixes.
Hotfixes use dot-notation for their Version numbering scheme. For example the SE 6.0 October 2008 Hotfix is v18.104.22.168
SE FAQ #195 may also be of interest.