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SubjectRe: Availability of kdb
   Date: 	Sun, 10 Sep 2000 17:06:17 -0600
From: "Jeff V. Merkey" <>

One of the principal architects at Compaq called me Friday after
reading Linus' email about not caring about commercial or support
issues for commercialization of Linux on this topic-- his right -- it
had the anticipated impact I would expect, and it's rippling through
the industry. This topic on kernel debuggers and Linux kernel
development philosophy has been an unknown to a lot of folks in the
commercial software world for a long time and now Linus has made some
things very clear.

Since Linus has rejected kdb there's every indication he will reject
any other kernel debugger submissions -- also his right. I think my
time would be better spent completing the merge of the Linux code
base onto MANOS since moving the debugger over to Linux seems to not
be something Linus would adopt and it's contrary to his development
philosophy, so it's probably a complete waste of my time.

Remember, there's a big difference between what's in the "official" tree
as distributed by Linus, and what people actually use in distributions.
For example, just about every distribution I know uses NFS patches that
never made it into the 2.2 tree because of Alan's concerns about
backwards compatibility. (A commendable concern, but when just about
everyone is using the patch, the discrepancy between what most users who
are using a precompiled kernel see and what they get if they try to
compile a kernel on their own --- since they're likely not to know about
the required NFS patches if they what to be comptible with other Unix
systems --- is something I'd concerned more important. But then again,
I'm not in charge of the 2.2 kernel; that's Alan's call.)

So it wouldn't surprise me that if someone kept a well-matained kernel
debugger and crash dumping patch (such as the one by SGI) if most
commercial distributions included them as a matter of course.

It's important not to get *too* badly fixated over what's in the
"official blessed Linux kernel distribution which has the holy penguin
pee on it."

If I get time to create a patch for Linux, I'll put it up. kdb seems
to be already there, so folks can use it on Linux for now, and I'll
stick to printk() and code reviews for my debugging on Linux.

If you come up with robust, easy to patch source-code-level debugger for
Linux, some people will use it, and some people won't. If it's better
than kdb, eventually it'll displace kdb as the external kernel debugger
of choice. As with all things, the cardinal rule in this community
still applies: "show me the code".

- Ted
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