Subject: Re: What is a snapshot?
To: Erik E. Fair <>
From: Leo Bicknell <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/11/1997 14:47:04
> What's really bothering me is the infrequent official releases. It's a
> little disquieting to see someone report a problem in 1.2.1 and hear back
> "oh, that's fixed in -current" (with the implication that they run
> -current, or the last snapshot). It's good that we do QA, and release only
> when we're convinced that our stuff works. However, for our work to have
> more influence on the world at large (and don't we like it when people use
> what we've worked hard on?) I think we have to push something official out
> the door a little more often than we have been. Say, official release every
> year, and bug-fix-only point releases every quarter?

	I think you've hit it dead on.  I recently freed up a DecStation
for some pmax port playing, and I noticed that the only way to get 
anything close to working properly was to install a snapshot and go
to -current.  I think more frequent releases are good for a few other

	1) It brings all the code into sync more often, which helps
	   keep development consistant.

	2) It gets more people using the code, as many will only use
	   released code.  There are a lot of bug-finders out there
	   that aren't being taken advantage of.

	3) It creates a more marketable product, which gets more
	   people on board.

> Please note, I am not trying to put more work on the portmasters. I'd
> vastly prefer that someone *else* do builds & testing for each port, for
> lots of reasons (don't overwork or overcommit the portmaster, independent

	Definately agreed.  I've never tried to make a NetBSD snapshot,
but I have made several for FreeBSD.  What annoys me most about NetBSD
is the lack of distribution tools, and documentation on how to build
distributions.  I found myself looking at current when I downloaded
this and searching for all sorts of things to make sure I understood
how to build a system.  If I had good documentation on the build
process, how the make targets and variables are used, and so on
I'd be quite willing to do builds.

	The other lacking feature is install programs.  Now I know
a portable /stand/sysinstall (a la FreeBSD) will probably never happen
but there is little consistancy on how things install.  It's hard
to install when it's a chore every time.  It seems like we should
be able to generate a generic install script (platform independant)
that places modest requirements on each platform, ie, boot to
single user mode with binaries x, y, and z and then run this 
common script.  Combine this with a package system (a la setld,
pkg_add or soforth) and people will be much more willing to install
NetBSD in the first place, upgrade to new snapshots and soon.
If the package system is smart enough to do a sort  of upgrading
that is an even bigger win.

	Finally, cross-compiling.  Is it possible (eg has someone
done it) to cross compile each NetBSD archecture from a single box
and end up with usable systems?  That is, could we make one
"supercompiler" box that generated snapshots for every platform?
That would allow a smaller number of people to generate a larger
number of snapshots in a reasonable amount of time.