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SubjectRe: C++ pushback
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Kyle Moffett wrote:
> On Apr 26, 2006, at 22:05:31, Roman Kononov wrote:
>> Kyle Moffett wrote:
>>> On Apr 26, 2006, at 19:00:52, Roman Kononov wrote:
>>>> Linus Torvalds wrote:
>>>>> - some of the C features we use may or may not be usable from
>>>>> C++ (statement expressions?)
>>>>
>>>> Statement expressions are working fine in g++. The main difficulties
>>>> are:
>>>> - GCC's structure member initialization extensions are syntax
>>>> errors in G++: struct foo_t foo={.member=0};
>>>
>>> And that breaks a _massive_ amount of kernel code, including such
>>> core functionality like SPIN_LOCK_UNLOCKED and a host of others.
>>> There are all sorts of macros that use member initialization of that
>>> form.
>>
>> This does not break the code at run time, this breaks the code at
>> compile time, and should be less painful.
>
> So breaking 90% of the source code at compile time is ok? I think not.
> The kernel relies really _really_ heavily on such structure
> initializers, and breaking them would effectively break the world as far
> as the kernel is concerned.

I agree: do not break code, fix it. Make it more robust language-wise.

>>>> G++ compiling heavy C++ is a bit slower than gcc. The g++ front end
>>>> is reliable enough. Do you have a particular bug in mind?
>>>
>>> A lot of people would consider the "significantly slower" to be a
>>> major bug. Many people moaned when the kernel stopped supporting GCC
>>> 2.x because that compiler was much faster than modern C compilers.
>>> I've seen up to a 3x slowdown when compiling the same files with g++
>>> instead of gcc, and such would be unacceptable to a _lot_ of people
>>> on this list.
>>
>> I agree, it would be a bad idea to compile the existing C code by
>> g++. The good idea is to be able to produce new C++ modules etc.
>
> No, this is a reason why C++ modules are _not_ a good idea. If you
> could write the module in C or C++, but in C++ it compiled 100-200%
> slower, then you would write it in C. Why? A simple matter of numbers:
>
> Say it takes you 100 hours to write and debug the module in C++, and 140
> to write and debug it in C. I estimate that at least 200,000 people
> would download and compile a single version of the kernel with your
> module (not an unreasonable estimate). Note that I'm not even including
> the people who do repeated regression testing of versions, or people who
> download and compile multiple versions of the kernel. If the source
> file takes an average of 1.0 seconds to compile in C and 2.0 seconds to
> compile in C++, then:
>
> (2.0 sec - 1.0 sec) * 200,000 = 200,000 seconds = 55.6 hours
> 140 hours - 100 hours = 40 hours
> 40 hours < 55.6 hours
>
> So for a single version of the kernel your module, you've already wasted
> 15.6 hours of time across people using it. Over time that number is
> just going to grow, _especially_ if people start writing more and more
> modules in C++ because they can. If you want to build C++ in the
> kernel, write a compiler that does not include all the problematic C++
> features that add so much parsing time (overloaded operators, etc).

It is hard take this seriously. For people like me, it is 5 times faster
to type and debug C++ code. And debug time is 50 times more expensive
then compile time.

>>>> A lot of C++ features are already supported sanely. You simply need
>>>> to understand them. Especially templates and type checking.
>>>
>>> First of all, the only way to sanely use templated classes is to
>>> write them completely inline, which causes massive bloat. Look at
>>> the kernel "struct list_head" and show me the "type-safe C++" way to
>>> do that. It uses a templated inline class, right? That templated
>>> inline class gets duplicated for each different type of object put in
>>> a linked list, no? Think about how many linked lists we have in the
>>> kernel and tell me why that would be a good thing.
>>
>> You mentioned a bad example. The struct list_head has [almost?] all
>> "members" inlined. If they were not, one could simply make a base
>> class having [some] members outlined, and which class does not enforce
>> type safety and is for inheritance only. The template class would
>> then inherit the base one enforcing type safety by having inline
>> members. This technique is well known, trust me. If you need real life
>> examples, tell me.
>
> Ok, help me understand here: Instead of helping using one sensible data
> structure and generating optimized code for that, the language actively
> _encourages_ you to duplicate classes and interfaces, providing even
> _more_ work for the compiler, making the code harder to debug, and
> probably introducing inefficiencies as well.

The C++ language does not encourage anything like this. Instead it
actively debugs my code. And it does not produce inefficiencies at run
time unless I do something stupid.

> If C++ doesn't work
> properly for a simple and clean example like struct list_head, why
> should we assume that it's going to work any better for more complicated
> examples in the rest of the kernel? Whether or not some arbitrary
> function is inlined should be totally orthogonal to adding type-checking.

You misunderstood something. The struct list_head is indeed a perfect
type to be templatized with all members inlined. C++ works properly in
this case.

>>>> Static constructor issue is trivial.
>>>
>>> How so? When do you want the static constructors to be run? There
>>> are many different major stages of kernel-level initialization;
>>> picking one is likely to make them useless for other code.
>>
>> For #defines core_initcall() ... late_initcall() I would type
>> something like this:
>> class foo_t { foo_t(); ~foo_t(); }
>> static char foo_storage[sizeof(foo_t)];
>> static foo_t& foo=*reinterpret_cast<foo_t*>(foo_storage);
>> static void __init foo_init() { new(foo_storage) foo_t; }
>> core_initcall(foo_init);
>>
>> This ugly-looking code can be nicely wrapped into a template, which,
>> depending on the type (foo_t in this case), at compile time, picks the
>> proper stage for initialization.
>
> You proved my point. Static constructors can't work. You can add silly
> wrapper initcall functions which create objects in static memory at
> various times, but the language-defined static constructors are yet
> another C++ feature that doesn't work by default and has to be hacked
> around. C++ gives us no advantage over C here either.

Nothing works by default. I did not say that static constructors are
advantageous. I said that it is easy for the kernel to make static
constructors working. Global variables should be deprecated anyway.

> Plus this would
> break things like static spinlock initialization. How would you make
> this work sanely for this static declaration:
>
> spinlock_t foo_lock = SPIN_LOCK_UNLOCKED;
>
> Under C that turns into (depending on config options):
>
> spinlock_t foo_lock = { .value = 0, .owner = NULL, (...) };

I would make it exactly like this:
#define SPIN_LOCK_UNLOCKED (spinlock_t){0,-1,whatever}
spinlock_t foo_lock=SPIN_LOCK_UNLOCKED;
This is easy to change. The empty structures look far more painful.

> How could that possibly work in C++ given what you've said? Anything
> that breaks code that simple is an automatic nonstarter for the kernel.
> Also remember that spinlocks are defined preinitialized at the very
> earliest stages of init. Of course I probably don't have to say that
> anything that tries to run a function to iterate over all
> statically-allocated spinlocks during init would be rejected out of hand.

Apparently this would be rejected. Why would it?

Regards
Roman Kononov

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