Kernel bugs: out of control?
Posted May 11, 2006 9:38 UTC (Thu) by malor
In reply to: Kernel bugs: out of control?
Parent article: Kernel bugs: out of control?
Well, other than skill, anyway. I can fix makefiles and the occasional include, but that's about as far as I go with C. Not exactly stable-kernel-maintainer quality. :) I know the Debian kernel maintainers are clueful, and they're having a hell of a time, so thinking that I'd do any better is rather silly.
The lack of hardware support might not have been a problem... they backported many drivers to 2.4. Adding drivers doesn't generally interfere with the functionality of the kernel. As is, to get security patches or new drivers, you're forced to take new features too, maybe features you don't particularly want. With a stable kernel, you could probably have both a nice lack of kernel panics AND hardware support for your new devices. It certainly used to happen during 2.4/2.5.
The problem with the backporting is that it's boring work, and the kernel devs don't like to do it. Stability is also boring work, with a similar outcome. The new kernel development model is for THEM, not for the millions of people who built companies and careers based on the original social contract: "This code is as good as we know how to make it. If it breaks, you keep the pieces, but we'll do our damndest to make sure it doesn't break."
Linux 2.2 was incredibly stable; it NEVER fell over. (well, at least with the loads at the time, which were pretty minimal :) ) Best piece of software I've ever run. Every once in awhile, someone would mention a kernel panic on IRC or Slashdot, and the result would usually be mild incredulity... "oh wow, it crashed?! whoah. Dude. Go buy a lottery ticket!"
The first time this thread came up on Slashdot and I posted this rant, more or less, very few people agreed with me. (even though I'd been struggling with bugs for months.) It came up a couple of months ago, and there were a number of people this time chiming in with similar stories. It came up again a week or so ago, and this time the thread was FULL of people complaining. The haters are being marginalized ("you idiot! go run Windows!")... because people are cluing in that this high-speed development cycle is death for stability.
The single best comment I saw on Slashdot said this, roughly: with the kernel in such a state of flux, different parts of it will be stable at different times, and it will never all be stable at the _same_ time.
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