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SubjectRe: Boot code rewritten for GAS
Chris Noe wrote:
> Especially when that dependency is on an assembler which isn't even really
> needed anymore because gas can do the same job today).

BTW, LILO also uses as86. Guess why - because it needs to generate 16 bit
x86 code and as86 was around anyway ... (and, as your experience with
binutils suggests, actually the only choice, particularly in '92)

I'm in no hurry to change LILO to use any other assembler syntax: there
are ~2500 lines of assembler waiting for anybody attempting such a
conversion to make a stupid typo which may then bite a few million
people. Not a good idea. (*)

(* LILO bugs tend to have more serious effects than bugs in the kernel
boot code, because in the latter case, the worst-case outcome is one
kernel that doesn't boot (and if you're careful, you have a second,
known to be good kernel around), while in the former case, you may
end up with a system that's completely unbootable.)

Regarding as86 vs. NASM vs. gas: I don't see where NASM would fit. as86
does the job today, it's deployed, and it's readily understood by most
people who know Intel syntax. I can see some value in using gas for (at
least approximative) uniformity. But forcing a mandatory binutils update
upon people just for that seems vastly exaggerated. The story would be
different if there are other benefits in upgrading binutils, e.g. known
mis-compilation of kernels with older versions.

The fact that in Linux, we are not enslaved by backwards-compatibility
in the way other products are, does not mean that we need to break it
at every opportunity just to prove our independence.

- Werner

/ Werner Almesberger, ICA, EPFL, CH /

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