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Re: hurd-web/hurd/translator/unionmount.mdwn

From: Sergiu Ivanov
Subject: Re: hurd-web/hurd/translator/unionmount.mdwn
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2009 00:40:24 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)


On Tue, Sep 08, 2009 at 12:28:09PM +0200, Arne Babenhauserheide wrote:
> Am Dienstag, 8. September 2009 09:08:23 schrieb Sergiu Ivanov:
> > I can see your point, but please note that if I were to think of the
> > Hurd wiki in terms of a version controlled entity, I would create a
> > personal branch and wait for approval from the authorized person to
> > move the corresponding modification in the master branch.  
> I think there are several different ways of seeing history, all depending on 
> how people interact (and how many people read the history). 
> One is to see history as a decision record.  You create clean
> patches and show them to people to propose a change.  In that case
> you need a clean history, or you need to flatten your local history
> into distinct patches before publishing it.  When people read your
> history, they see the effects of your groups decision process, but
> not the process itself.  When you have very complex systems or very
> many people interacting, this looks to me like the only way to avoid
> running into problems.  The same might be true for companies who
> need to be able to clearly blame people for errors.
> Another way is to see the history as a means to synchronize the work
> and as a simple track record.  It makes it easier to work
> distributed, because work can more easily be merged, but it isn't
> necessary for the history to look pretty to someone outside.  You
> don't need to turn everything into a final patch, because people can
> simply skit over change descriptions like "typo" and such, and more
> importantly, the final look of the history isn't important.  If you
> work in a small project which regularly synchronizes or in a project
> where the parts aren't too tightly interwoven, this can increase the
> development speed.  Getting something perfect before publishing
> means that others have to wait longer before they can include and
> test it.  And if everyone polishes very much, it means that everyone
> has to wait until everything is polished (and many things might
> become stale and disappear before even going public).

Well, I'm vaguely aware of these two approaches, but I never actually
thought exactly in terms of one of them.

I've just remembered that when I was in the habit of doing web-commits
I didn't really care about history, so I think I'll forget about this
paranoia :-)

> > However,
> > it's obvious that creating a personal (private) branch in the hurd-web
> > repository is rather meaningless since nobody can see it anyway.
> > 
> > OTOH, if I do just commit a change to the master branch right now and
> > should it be decided that this change was inappropriate later, there
> > would be two ways out: either remove the commit from the middle of the
> > history or do clean-up commits, both of which are rather ugly.
> Do you mean, they either are ugly for people who want to synchronize
> their own repository, or they are ugly to those who want to read the
> history later on?

I meant the people who read the history later on.
> For me the first is a concern, but the latter doesn't matter that
> much for a wiki.  A wiki is meant to be quickly edited by many
> people.  A VCS doesn't change the kind of project it's supporting
> (for example I version control a roleplaying rulebook I work on).
> It does give us additional options, though.

Yeah, you are right.  Patch-juggling in the summer has biased my mind
too much :-)
> More exactly: Thinking a lot about the latter can eat far more time
> than cleaning up afterwards.  And a quick clean up commit like
> "moved the union mount description to foo because bar and baz"
> doesn't look ugly to me.  It's clear what it does, so I don't even
> have to look at the patch, and its effect is clearly contained.
> And our wiki tends to get out of date, so updating status or
> providing current information is our bottleneck.

Sure, I think I agree with you.
> ## Rule of thumb for committing
> As a rule of thumb for the wiki I'd propose[*] to simply add
> anything which either needs almost no maintenance or which you are
> willing to maintain yourself (and for which have the time for
> maintaining).  All naturally under the pretext that you think it's
> useful and it doesn't make the page harder to navigate for visitors.
I think I'll try to keep to this rule :-)

> > However, while writing this, it occurred to me that I could as well
> > put the short description into hurd-web/user/scolobb .  After all,
> > since the GSoC is officially past its end, I can mention the fact and
> > provide a short description of the result of the program.
> The update would definitely be good.  That page is what people will
> be looking at to see how your GSoC did go.

OK, I'll do that when I come back.
> > > We don't lose anything when those who have most knowledge about the
> > > special area just act, but we lose a lot of time by waiting too much.
> > 
> > That's a philosophical point :-) Just acting is not always the best
> > way to do things.  This may lead to race condition :-) 
> :) 
> That's true, but in a VCS it only means duplicated work and not lost work.  
> Also I assume that in the time we already spent on discussing *where* to put 
> the information, we could already have written and then reworked a good part 
> it - and moved it later in less than a minute after getting feedback.  

Well, that's true :-)
> > Anyway, I hope
> > the solution I suggested above (adding the documentation to my
> > hurd-web page) should be good.
> I think you should also add a link from the translator proposal to
> your status page, then it will work out very well.

Great :-) I'll do that.
> > I'm afraid this could introduce ugliness in the history.
> > 
> > It has just occurred to me that a fair part of my thinking about this
> > problem is occupied by taking care of the history being nice.  I
> > wonder whether it's normal :-(
> I think it is.  
> I also fall into the trap at times (it's like reputation: "Look, I
> did good work, see how nicely it shines" "but does it do anything
> useful?" "no, but look how it shines" :) ), and there are times when
> a clean history is important (and cluttering too much can make it
> harder to search for bugs later on).

That's a nice formulation :-D
> > > PS: I now use the wiki via Mercurial and the hg-git extension.  That way
> > > I avoid getting bitten by git again ;)
> > > I only need got for *creating* short-lived branches (sicne I can already
> > > do the merging from mercurial).
> > 
> > That's great :-)
> > 
> > Seeing how advertently you propagate Mercurial in every applicable
> > task, I think I'll have to have a look at it :-) It should be worth
> > the time ;-)
> Maybe I should write a disclaimer into my signature : "I really like
> Mercurial, but please also ask Olaf why git is great, so you see
> both sides" :)

> I assume it's mostly personal preference.  I like the feel of
> Mercurial far more than that of git, but technically they are about
> equal.  Philosophically they are quite different, though.  Git
> advocates mutable history and private branches which you rebase
> before you publish, while Mercurial advocates immutable history
> (what's done is done) and early publishing of private branches to be
> merged later on (you need to use command line options to *avoid*
> publishing all branches when you push).
> Naturally git can be used with immutable history (only allow fast
> forward pushes, iirc) and Mercurial can rebase (activate the rebase
> extension) and keep private branches (hg push -r REV only pushes the
> branch with that revision, up to the revision), but these aren't the
> default ways of operation.
> What I also prefer about Mercurial is that it's very hard to shoot
> yourself in the foot with the commands you get when you don't
> activate any extensions (even though the extensions are shipped with
> Mercurial and thus part of the program, they aren't active by
> default).  That makes it hard to break and quite useful for less
> technical minded people, too.
> Also another disclaimer is needed: I actively contributed to
> Mercurial up to a month ago (for example I wrote most of the content
> on http://hg-scm.org )and only stopped because I have to concentrate
> on learning for my diploma exam, now.  So I decided to stick to the
> Hurd, because I though that I can make more of a difference here
> while needing to invest far less time (writing the news should only
> take about half an hour to an hour per week).
> So my view is clearly *not* unbiased :) 

I'm sorry, I don't have the time to read this part of your message
right away.  But I'll definitely read it and reply to it when I come


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