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[Gnu-arch-users] Torvalds' comments on Bitkeeper and future Linux kernel

From: Andy Tai
Subject: [Gnu-arch-users] Torvalds' comments on Bitkeeper and future Linux kernel development
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2005 09:12:07 -0700 (PDT)

Tom and the community, be wise to take advantage of
the opportunity...

Linus Torvald's comments:

Date    Wed, 6 Apr 2005 08:42:08 -0700 (PDT)
From    Linus Torvalds <>
Subject Kernel SCM saga..

 as a number of people are already aware (and in some
cases have been
aware over the last several weeks), we've been trying
to work out a
conflict over BK usage over the last month or two (and
it feels like
longer ;). That hasn't been working out, and as a
result, the kernel team
is looking at alternatives.

[ And apparently this just hit slashdot too, so by now
_everybody_ knows ]

It's not like my choice of BK has been entirely
conflict-free ("No,
really? Do tell! Oh, you mean the gigabytes upon
gigabytes of flames we
had?"), so in some sense this was inevitable, but I
sure had hoped that it
would have happened only once there was a reasonable
alternative. As it is, we'll have to scramble for a

Btw, don't blame BitMover, even if that's probably
going to be a very
common reaction. Larry in particular really did try to
make things work
out, but it got to the point where I decided that I
don't want to be in
the position of trying to hold two pieces together
that would need as much
glue as it seemed to require.

We've been using BK for three years, and in fact, the
biggest problem
right now is that a number of people have gotten very
very picky about
their tools after having used the best. Me included,
but in fact the
people that got helped most by BitKeeper usage were
often the people
_around_ me who had a much easier time merging with my
tree and sending
their trees to me.

Of course, there's also probably a ton of people who
just used BK as a
nicer (and much faster) "anonymous CVS" client. We'll
get that sorted out,
but the immediate problem is that I'm spending most my
time trying to see
what the best way to co-operate is.

NOTE! BitKeeper isn't going away per se. Right now,
the only real thing
that has happened is that I've decided to not use BK
mainly because I need
to figure out the alternatives, and rather than
continuing "things as
normal", I decided to bite the bullet and just see
what life without BK
looks like. So far it's a gray and bleak world ;)

So don't take this to mean anything more than it is.
I'm going to be
effectively off-line for a week (think of it as a
normal "Linus went on a
vacation" event) and I'm just asking that people who
continue to maintain
BK trees at least try to also make sure that they can
send me the result
as (individual) patches, since I'll eventually have to
merge some other

That "individual patches" is one of the keywords, btw.
One thing that BK 
has been extremely good at, and that a lot of people
have come to like 
even when they didn't use BK, is how we've been
maintaining a much finer- 
granularity view of changes. That isn't going to go

In fact, one impact BK ha shad is to very
fundamentally make us (and me in
particular) change how we do things. That ranges from
the fine-grained
changeset tracking to just how I ended up trusting
submaintainers with
much bigger things, and not having to work on a
patch-by-patch basis any
more. So the three years with BK are definitely not
wasted: I'm convinced 
it caused us to do things in better ways, and one of
the things I'm 
looking at is to make sure that those things continue
to work.

So I just wanted to say that I'm personally very happy
with BK, and with 
Larry. It didn't work out, but it sure as hell made a
big difference to 
kernel development. And we'll work out the temporary
problem of having to 
figure out a set of tools to allow us to continue to
do the things that BK 
allowed us to do.

Let the flames begin.


PS. Don't bother telling me about subversion. If you
must, start reading
up on "monotone". That seems to be the most viable
alternative, but don't
pester the developers so much that they don't get any
work done. They are
already aware of my problems ;)
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