[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [patch] Get coreutils 6.1 to build on a ANSI 89 compiler

From: Bob Proulx
Subject: Re: [patch] Get coreutils 6.1 to build on a ANSI 89 compiler
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 11:16:47 -0600
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

mwoehlke wrote:
> I have built coreutils (actually, a nice GNU suite plus a few others 
> like VIM7) on over a half dozen platforms, including Solaris 2.7, Irix, 
> HPUX 11.x, AIX... and of course Linux. These are "old" systems, but they 
> are still used in production (we keep them because our customers still 
> use them).

Hmm...  Are your customers also using the latest code on those
machines?  I would guess those are effectively stable appliances which
is why they are frozen there.  Running with the latest code is not
going to match their environment.  And if the customers were using the
latest software then I would pose the same question to them concerning
modifying it with upgrades.

I am not saying this from an academic viewpoint.  I am saying this as
someone who is doing this first hand myself.  I am still running HP-UX
10.20 which is long out of support.  I am still running HP-UX 11.00
and HP-UX 11.11.  I still have a few quite old IBM AIX systems
running.  I still have Debian Woody machines in hard service.  Just a
couple of weeks ago I was able to upgrade our last RHL 8.0 machine.
I am living this problem every day.

> I keep noticing that people seem to want to only support GNU software on 
> the latest stable release of Linux, and that really bothers me. The 
> great thing about GNU is that is isn't limited to just Linux, and I 
> think continuing to support platforms that are still used in production 
> environments is important.

Well, c99 is arguably at least three stable distro releases old now
and even more depending on distro, possibly less.  It is half way to a
future c2009.  Isn't it time that developers moved to using c99?

I think coreutils and gnulib do a pretty good job of maintaining
compatibility with those older systems that are still in use.  There
is a difference between older systems still in use and older systems
that are now just hobby or museum pieces.  I don't think it is a fair
statement to say that coreutils only supports the latest stable
GNU/Linux distro released.  If that were true then those older HP-UX
and older Solaris and older AIX machines would certainly fall off the

> Now, to answer the original question, I *think* most of those have a C99 
> compiler available, but without checking all ten OS/hardware 
> combinations (not counting Cygwin, where I use the officially maintained 
> toolchain), I can't say that with certainty.

How would you propose that we determine this information?  I can't
think of a better way than to make a coreutils release that relies
upon the desired c99 features, with an easy way to patch back to c89.
If there are no bug reports of any type then we can assume that no one
is using new coreutils on museum pieces.  If there are lots of real
and valid bug reports then we have our information.

I think this is okay because by definition if you are compiling source
code you have assumed the role of a developer, or at least a code
porter, and developers and code porters are assumed to have a higher
skill level than a non-developer.  This issue is well within reason to
expect them to be able to deal with effectively.  With the README
saying explicitly what needs to be done and the patch provided it is
very easy.  Perhaps too easy.

> I'm not against making C99 a *soft* requirement (part of building that 
> toolchain I mentioned was dealing with non-C99 compilers - not just with 
> coreutils), especially if configure tries to find a C99 compiler if you 
> didn't point it at one explicitly (how many OS's does this work with, 
> btw?), but there are still systems used by real people (and by big 
> companies!) that certainly don't have C99 by default.

So let's turn this into useful information.  Among the platforms that
you are using do you have any that are not capable of using a c99
compiler?  The old systems that I mentioned in my list above all are
capable of supporting the c99 code.  And from my perspective if those
old systems support c99 then I can't imagine anything older still
being in real use.  The systems I listed were ancient and had c99.

I am not sure coreutils would be doing a service to the community to
add automatic back patching of the code on systems without c99
available.  Having to do it explicitly today acts as a wakeup-call to
people that they should be thinking and planning for how to deal with
the support issue for their ancient platform.


reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]