Thanks for the explanation. On further thought, the tools *could* be somewhat better. I do now recall stalking people in #oprofile a few years ago to get them to explain what some of the output fields actually were, and the upstream oprofile-to-kcachegrind script is ~useless. (But then, that's partly my fault for not sending patches. I wouldn't want to live with oprofile long without real call tree visualization.)
That doesn't seem like the sort of thing the kernel folks would deign to notice, though.
Certainly it makes sense in general to keep coupled tools together, to reduce drift and lower the barrier to entry. When it comes to maintaining an ABI, though, I think I trust the kernel folks (when they decide they care) a bit more than binutils...
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