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SubjectRe: Linux in a binary world... a doomsday scenario
Nick Piggin wrote:
> Al Boldi wrote:
> > Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> >>a stable api/abi for the linux kernel would take at least 2 years to
> >>develop. The current API is not designed for stable-ness, a stable API
> >>needs stricter separation between the layers and more opaque pointers
> >>etc etc.
> >
> > True. But it would be time well spent.
> Who's time would be well spent?
> Not mine because I don't want a stable API. Not mine because I
> don't use binary drivers and I don't care to encourage them.
> [that is, unless you manage to convince me below ;)]

The fact that somebody may take advantage of a stable API should not lead us
to reject the idea per se.

> Anyone else is free to fork the kernel and develop their own
> stable API for it.

That would be sad.

The objective of a stable API would be to aid the collective effort and not
to divide it.

> >>There is a price you pay for having such a rigid scheme (it arguably has
> >>advantages too, those are mostly relevant in a closed source system tho)
> >>is that it's a lot harder to implement improvements.
> >
> > This is a common misconception. What is true is that a closed system is
> > forced to implement a stable api by nature. In an OpenSource system you
> > can just hack around, which may seem to speed your development cycle
> > when in fact it inhibits it.
> How? I'm quite willing to listen, but throwing around words like 'guided
> development' and 'scalability' doesn't do anything. How does the lack of a
> stable API inhibit my kernel development work, exactly?

If you are working alone a stable API would be overkill. But GNU/Linux is a
collective effort, where stability is paramount to aid scalability.

I hope the concepts here are clear.

> >>Linux isn't so much designed as evolved, and in evolution, new dominant
> >>things emerge regularly. A stable API would prevent those from even
> >> coming into existing, let alone become dominant and implemented.
> >
> > GNU/OpenSource is unguided by nature.
> I've got a fairly good idea of what work I'm doing, and what I'm planning
> to do, long term goals, projects, etc. What would be the key differences
> with "non-GNU/OpenSource" development that would make you say they are not
> unguided by nature?

The same goes for OpenSource in general, but GNU/OpenSource has a larger
community and therefore is in greater need of a stable API.

> > A stable API contributes to a guided
> > development that is scalable. Scalability is what leads you to new
> > heights, or else could you imagine how ugly it would be to send this
> > message using asm?
> Let's not bother with bad analogies and stick to facts. Do you know how
> many people work on the Linux kernel? And how rapidly the source tree
> changes? Estimates of how many bugs we have? Comparitive numbers from
> projects with stable APIs? That would be very interesting.

You got me here! It's really common sense as in:
stability breeds scalability, and instability breeds chaos.

Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> I think Linux proves you wrong (and a bit of a troll to be honest ;)

No troll! Just being IMHO. I hope that's OK?

Of course, if your aim is not to be scalable then please ignore this message
as it will not have any meaning.



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