Subject: Merging userland (was Re: Merging Net/Free/Open-BSD together against Linux)
To: None <>
From: Brian C. Grayson <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 11/26/1998 00:25:22
  by with SMTP; 26 Nov 1998 06:26:00 -0000
Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1998 00:25:22 -0600
From: "Brian C. Grayson" <>
Subject: Merging userland (was Re: Merging Net/Free/Open-BSD together against Linux)
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  While it is true that, due to fundamental differences in
goals, it may be impossible to ever merge the kernels into one
kernel project, I haven't seen anyone mention userland merging.
To pick on one of my favorite examples, look at dump(8).

  NetBSD dump supports dumping a directory, not merely a whole
filesystem.  It also handles the -S option, where it simply prints
out the estimated dump size (this is much quicker than dumping to
/dev/null).  It does not have the FreeBSD -a option.

  A quick investigation of FreeBSD shows that the -S flag is
not supported, and that it can only dump a whole filesystem.
However, FreeBSD added a -a option that avoids sizing issues.

  Inspection of OpenBSD cvs messages shows that they have the
NetBSD directory-dumping and the FreeBSD -a option, but
apparently lack the -S estimate option.

  (For comparison, the Linux dump/restore toolchain has been
broken for us ("bad direntry", IIRC) on the order of a year or
more!  Three cheers for *BSD!)

  It appears that in the past, features are grabbed from a
different BSD ``whenever someone notices and has the time.'' 
>From my naive point of view, there is no reason why a single
unified version of dump, and of the _majority_ (but not all) of
userland, could be maintained.  In the case of dump, all three
BSDs would gain!  And providing a more-uniform userland would
be a nice benefit for those of us who want/need to maintain
more than one *BSD.

  Unfortunately, I need to devote more of my time towards writing
a dissertation and finding a job :), otherwise I'd volunteer to
help out in a major way.  Maybe next year I'll be able to devote
resources (repository, a test machine of each flavor, simple test
suites, etc.) and person-cycles.

  Happy hacking!

  Brian Grayson
PhD Candidate, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UT at Austin
Office:  ENS 406       (512) 471-8011
Finger for PGP key.