bug history; stability vs features
Posted Jul 10, 2006 18:33 UTC (Mon) by sanjoy
In reply to: rats...
Parent article: Survey: Linux kernel quality
I just filled in the bug report history section by searching bugzilla.kernel.org to see what I'd reported: 21 bugs! A few are fixed or are duplicates; a couple have patches that fix them waiting to go into mainline (5000, 5989); a few are perhaps unfixable with the current design (4928, 5069); one I still need to report test results, whoops (6293); and several are still open. 5989 (s3 suspend hanging on the second suspend) involved tons of debugging and testing, so I'm especially glad that it has a candidate patch.
Suspend/resume have been the most buggy areas for me, probably because they are hard to debug and ACPI is incredibly complex. There's a saying that every Unix program grows in complexity until it can order pizza or maybe read email. The ACPI specification (an interpreter running in the kernel, who would have thought) seems well beyond that point!
I'd like to see a bug-sqashing-only release and perhaps have it recur every odd minor number (e.g. 2.6.19 then 2.6.21 ...). Stability and correctness are more important than features, not least because correctness implies making the internal designs robust and that gives a good platform for adding features.
I try to teach my physics students to "consider extreme cases" as a way of reasoning. On this issue, the two extremes are Windows, which is full of features and cruft; and TeX, which is rock solid. TeX admittedly solves a different problem and has different requirements than an OS does. But users appreciate that the base is rock solid. I think Linux needs to move towards the TeX side of the extreme.
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