Debugfs and the making of a stable ABI
Posted Dec 7, 2008 23:36 UTC (Sun) by giraffedata
In reply to: Debugfs and the making of a stable ABI
Parent article: Debugfs and the making of a stable ABI
Linus's point is that when he documents a feature "unstable" or "do not use", distros often use it anyway.
He makes a more general point. He says whether something is documented has zero impact on anything. While I believe from context he meant to limit that to impact on whether it's OK to change function in a later release, I believe he meant to cover engineering in general and not just the Linux kernel, and that he meant zero.
Even in the Linux kernel, there are plenty of cases where because something is documented as something developers want to change in the future, a Linux user did not use it. But if you consider things that don't have Linux's no-documentation culture, there are even more cases of someone not using an interface because documentation shows it is not intended to be an interface.
Linus' statement is, like so many he makes, greatly exaggerated.
The only practical solution so far has been to simply withhold the feature until the interface is stable. But all programmers do this. I don't see why you find that so deeply disturbing...?
Neither of those things affect whether there's something disturbing in the practice. What I find disturbing is the contradiction or irony. Distributing tools is primarily about enabling people. Tool makers shouldn't be in the business of manipulating behavior.
It reminds me of an I/T group I once worked for, whose mission was essentially to withhold computing services from people (it was a large centralized I/T department that functioned as a budget control point).
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