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Re: [screen-devel] screen maintainer

From: Axel Beckert
Subject: Re: [screen-devel] screen maintainer
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2014 21:27:27 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

Hi Amadeusz,

thanks for the calm reply despite my maybe still a little bit heated
mail. :-)

On Wed, Apr 02, 2014 at 07:47:21PM +0200, Amadeusz Sławiński wrote:
> > > * removal of ancient code (removed most of #ifdef for ancient
> > > systems)
> > 
> > Not happy.
> >
> > I fear that this may cause a lot of breakage. Linux(*) is by far not
> > the only platform for Screen out there.
> > 
> > (*) You wrote earlier that you only tested your code on Linux. Linux
> >     is by far not the only platform, GNU Screen runs on.
> That's why I warn before hand.


> Screen is project which accumulated more then 25 years of code
> according to copyrights. And while it may be interesting to
> historians, I think it's time source is stripped of those
> workarounds and retested on machines people use, because it's likely
> that it just works with far fewer hacks, than it had.

Fair enough.

> > > * removal of features which didn't seem useful or could be replaced
> > Please list which features you removed, so that people at least have a
> > chance to object.
> From fast comparing between source files:

Thanks for that list. At least it removes some of my fears. :-)

> multiuser - seemed more like security risk to me

Do you mean "screen -x" or the "acl*" commands?

"screen -x" is used quite often by admin groups when e.g. working
together on the same issue but from different locations. It surely
would be missed.

But I've never had use for using a single screen session with more
than one unix account, i.e. the "acl*" commands. So no crying from
here there.

(Once this topic is clarified, I'll write a summary to screen-users to
see if there's anyone out there who would care.)

> braille - couldn't test :(

I'll ask on the grml mailing list for that. Grml is a sysadmin live CD
which relies heavily on well preconfigured Zsh and GNU Screen. It has
quite some blind users and the Grml maintainers care about supporting
blind users. I suspect that we could also collect some testers for
braille stuff there. :-)

> utmp - seemed broken and there is also utmpx?

I don't really use Ctrl-A L, but I prefer if my shells inside screen
show up in the output of "w" and think that it's a helpful feature
(for admins looking at their users :-). I though wouldn't cry too loud
if that would be gone.

Doesn't look broken for me though. Works fine for me on Debian Wheezy
(current Debian stable, ships a screen snapshot from early 2012).

> nethack - funny, but who really needs it?

Funny, but does it really hurt?

It's used by the Grml live CD IIRC. Will mention that on their mailing
list, too.

And I already got some comment on that one on a private IRC channel:

21:18:22 <blindcoder> "nethack - funny, but who really needs it?"
21:18:22 <blindcoder> M E ! ME! ME ! :D


> zmodem - according to wiki some ancient file transfer protocol
> there may be something else...

Never used, but maybe helpful when screen is connected to a serial
console. (Actually I wasn't aware of that feature, sounds useful at
least to some extent. Should try it while it's still there. ;-)

> One of my goals was to make code far more readable, so I reformatted
> whole tree,

Sounds sane if done at one point and not distributed over many
commits. (Haven't checked and I won't argue if there were feature or
bugfix commits in between. :-)

> and also enabled most of features by removing #ifdefs.

If they weren't enabled by default previously, this may cause some
build failures on less common architectures or operating systems, but
that means, it's about time to fix the code of these seldomly used
features. :-)

> And believe me it's far more easy to understand what's going on.

Sounds good. I've had my issues there in the past, too.

> I want to make sure that screen stays as usable as it is to people
> who use it, but also would like to see new stuff happening, that's
> why I started this talk.


Just as a summary, my fears come from two directions:

A) I tend to be used to less commonly used features. (Call it
   conservative, but old habits die hard. :-)

B) I currently maintain Screen in Debian. Debian is a Linux dist…
   -- scratch that -- Debian is a free software distribution that
   officially runs with at least three different operating system
   kernels (Linux, FreeBSD kernel and GNU Hurd) and some more, e.g.
   DysonOS and Illumian are ports of Debian to Illumos and I already
   got a bug report that something in Screen didn't work there
   properly. (Permission issue, more packaging related.)

   It is also one of the Linux distributions with the most officially
   supported architectures and quite a bunch of not yet or no more
   supported architectures.

   Hence I prefer Screen to stay portable as some Debian users (or the
   Debian build daemons) will surely run into issues otherwise -- and
   it's currently my fate to get it fixed again. ;-)

                Kind regards, Axel
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