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SubjectRe: [ck] Re: Linus 2.6.23-rc1


On Sat, 28 Jul 2007, jos poortvliet wrote:
>
> Your point here seems to be: this is how it went, and it was right. Ok, got
> that.

But I wanted to bring out more than what you make sound like "that's what
happened, deal with it". I tried to explain _why_ the choices that were
made were in fact made.

And it's a (I think) important thing for people to be aware of. The fact
is, "personality" and "work with the other developers" is a big issue.

You cannot just go off and do your own thing in your private world, and
then expect it to be accepted without any discussion or other people
showing up and doing alternate things. That's _especially_ true in an area
that has a respected and working maintainer.

> Yet, Con walked away (and not just over SD). Seeing Con go, I wonder
> how many did leave without this splash.

We've had people go with a splash before. Quite frankly, the current
scheduler situation looks very much like the CML2 situation. Anybody
remember that? The developer there also got rejected, the improvement was
made differently (and much more in line with existing practices and
maintainership), and life went on. Eric Raymond, however, left with a
splash.

It's not common, but it's not unheard of. Anybody who thinks that
developers don't have huge egos probably haven't ever met a software
engineer. And I suspect kernel people have bigger egos than most. No
wonder there are clashes every once in a while - it's a wonder there
aren't _more_ of them.

> How and why? And is it due to a deeper problem?

Well, one part of it is that the way to make changes in the kernel
community is to do them incrementally.

Small and incremental improvements are much easier to merge. If you go off
and rewrite a subsystem, you shouldn't expect it to get merged, at least
not unless it can live side-by-side with the old one (the new firewire
stack is an example of that, and most filesystems are this way too). And
the closer to some central part you get, the harder that gets.

So the *bulk* of the kernel stuff can be handled either incrementally, or
side-by-side, and as a result, you actually seldom see issues like this.
The kernel is extremely modular, and a large reason for that is exactly to
avoid couplings.

Some (very few) things cannot be done incrementally. That's why I bring
up CML2 as a fairly good example of this having happened before. Some
things require flag-days. But you should pretty much *assume* that if
there is a flag-day, and if there is a maintainer, the maintainer has to
be involved.

Does "maintainership" give infinite powers? No. I'll take patches that
bypass maintainers, but there needs to be some reason for them (ie in some
sense the maintainer needs to have done a bad job, or the patch just needs
to be trivial enough - or it cuts across maintainership areas - that it's
not even _worth_ going through all maintainers).

So maintainers aren't "everything". But they are important. You can't just
ignore them and go do your own thing, and then expect it to be merged.

Linus
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