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Re: Status of revivesa

On Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 05:16:03PM -0400, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
> On Sun, 28 Sep 2008 14:57:25 +0100
> Mindaugas Rasiukevicius <> wrote:
> > Quentin Garnier <> wrote:
> > > > Or, does the "compatibility problem" only affect chroot
> > > > environments where any base libraries must not be updated?
> > > 
> > > Yes.  But all of that has already been discussed, you know.  You
> > > could have read the archives.
> > > 
> > > The thing is, system administrators, which is our target in this
> > > discussion, please keep that in mind, tend to be rather conservative
> > > when it comes to upgrading machines.  The more conservative they
> > > can be, the happier they will be.
> > 
> > Well, such "conservatism" could be called "laziness". Fair enough, and
> > understandable. However, it does not mean that we should taint kernel
> > with 3000+ lines (which invade all threading, and even mutex
> > implementation) to support very specific compatibility needs. But
> > yes, from my daily practise, often administrators just ignore
> > software engineering points..
> > 
> > Looking at real world, business and administrators somehow survive
> > with systems which break compatibility often. For critical production
> > systems, quality assurance / testing people provide entire upgrade
> > plan, etc. That does not mean we should stop doing good job on
> > compatibility support, but read my first paragraph again.
> > 
> "Conservatism" is descriptive; "laziness" is editorial and pejorative.
> But for every editorial opinion, there's an opposite one.  In fact, I'd
> been about to post that system administrators *should* be
> conservative.  I learned the system administration mantra "never
> install .0 of anything" close to 40 years ago; nothing I've seen since
> then -- including quality assurance schemes, test plans, and the like
> -- have changed my mind.  Sure, you do those things.  First, they don't
> always do the trick.  Second, the sysadmin group is definitely
> overloaded, understaffed, and underappreciated.  Third, when things go
> bad guess who gets blamed?  No, not the vendors who shipped cruddy
> software.

Besides, the argument works equally well on the "software engineering"
side.  Not willing to provide binary compatibility on the grounds that
it will make the code harder to maintain?  You can call it conservatism,
or whatever else, I might call it laziness.  The reality is that a lot,
if not most, of NetBSD users are system administrators.  This is a
volunteer project, and as such its developers are entitled to work on it
solely for their own enjoyment, but they have to accept that it is not
the only reason NetBSD exists.  Maybe 15 years ago that would have been
true, I don't know, I wasn't there, but I am sure it is not the case

Quentin Garnier - -
"See the look on my face from staying too long in one place
[...] every time the morning breaks I know I'm closer to falling"
KT Tunstall, Saving My Face, Drastic Fantastic, 2007.

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