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Patches with independent changes

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Patches with independent changes
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:43:19 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/24.2.0

[retitling from "Changes in update-game-score.c"]

Eli Zaretskii wrote:

chmod is documented to be able to return both negative and positive values

Really? Where is it documented to do that? It's not documented that way in the POSIX documentation for chmod, or in the Gnulib documentation of chmod porting hassles; see <http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/functions/chmod.html> and <http://www.gnu.org/software/gnulib/manual/html_node/chmod.html>, respectively.

Even if you're correct, which I doubt, trunk bzr 116116 would still be an example of what you're calling a "sumo" patch -- a patch containing multiple independent changes. One change addresses WINDOWSNT's lack of fchmod. Another addresses the perhaps-hypothetical issue that chmod can return positive values. So regardless, that patch does not follow the rule that patches should fix just one bug and should not make independent changes.

Insisting on such a rule would be silly, anyway. We don't follow that rule and we never have, and we shouldn't impose it now. Obviously there are advantages to putting independent changes in separate patches and in many cases we should do that, but an extremist insistence of this principle in all cases would significantly increase our maintenance burden for little or no benefit.

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