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Re: OT - Packages maintaining source for systems no longersupported [WAS

From: Earnie Boyd
Subject: Re: OT - Packages maintaining source for systems no longersupported [WAS: Re: Portability of preprocessor directives]
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 08:27:21 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.2.1) Gecko/20021130

Andreas Buening wrote:
Earnie Boyd wrote:


I would like to emphasize though, if the hobbyist isn't willing to test
for new releases using his hobby environment then support for that
environment should be removed.  A package maintainer doesn't have enough
cycles to maintain code that no one uses and doesn't have enough cycles
to do the testing himself.  So, if no one is testing then the maintainer
can assume that no one is using that environment and drop support for it

What do you consider a hobbyist system?

One that the vendor no longer supports and supplies fixes for and I as a maintainer of the software no longer have no access to test it myself. If it's not even tested how can it be used? It has a high probability of not working anyway!

I guess, 99.99% of all people
(maybe even more) don't test software packages as long as they don't
need to do.

If I'm rolling out new systems and new software, then yes regressions must be tested for. I only care about the ones I use, not the ones I don't. If I have a HP UX 9.x system and a maintainer of a software package makes improvements and I don't test them I my system then whose fault is it. The maintainer doesn't make any warranties, nor does anyone else. I must myself make the warranty, provide the appropriate patches and move on.

I remember Debian hit the 8000 package limit some time
ago. How many of the software packages you use for your daily work
do you really test? 1000? 100? I guess, it's less. Much less.
If it's just 1 then you do much more than 99.x% of all people do.
Having no tester for a specific system doesn't mean there are no users.

Well, if the package works for the maintainer and he rolls that out as a production release but it works for no one else because no one has an enviroment like the maintainers then the package will only have one user. It is impossible for a package maintainer to test all combinations of environment. He can do his best to try not to break the workings of the program for a particular system, but if no one is using that system anyway why continue to support it? At that moment of realization it's time to prune support for that system from the code.

Not all packages have as many contributors as autoconf. If you immediately
drop support for all systems when you don't have a tester then you will
hurt all systems that are not a standard Red Hat Linux out of the box

So, you've tried both RedHat and Debian versions of Linux. ;) I'm not talking about viable well supported systems that are currently being used. I'm talking about systems that are no longer supported by their respective vendors at all and used little.

You won't get a feedback one day after you've released
the new version of foo, maybe not even this year, maybe in two years
when Joe User wants to compile the cool new xyz program on SysBlurb which
needs the great and unique abc library. And to compile abc he needs the
latest version of foo and this doesn't work because "there was no tester
so nobody needs foo on SysBlurb".

At that point it's called porting. He ports the package to his system and submits patches to the maintainer for enjoyment in the future. The maintainer of an open source package is more a facilitator of patches more than he is the originator of the patch himself.

I take it from your tone that you are a user and not a participant in open source? I take it from your tone that you don't want your programs to stop working but that you aren't willing to put effort into making sure that doesh't happen beyond spouting words? I take it from your tone that you think the maintainer of code should keep code in his source files that someone someday maybe might use again on the pretense that someone used it once and it maybe someday just might be done that way again? Ridiculous! If the code isn't being used then remove it. If I remove the code from packages I maintain and it was used then perhaps someone might complain and it can be readded. Perhaps someone will do something even more clever and supply a better patch. Perhaps it just might cause testing by those interested in the package before the next release.


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