What if sysctl() were replaced by a library that performed the same functions by accessing the /proc/sys filesystem? Then the rotted code could be removed from the kernel but clients would continue to function. As long as the intent is to provide similar capabilities from /proc/sys, the code to do the translation from one to the other could live in userspace. After all, apps don't invoke the kernel directly, they go through glibc to do a sysctl().
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