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Linus and Mauro

A few opinions on the recent highly-publicised Linus vs Mauro exchange on the LKML:

  • I think Linus's preferences with his broad statement "WE DO NOT BREAK USERSPACE" are off and are actually inconsistent with his other policy preferences relating to use of private APIs by kernel modules. As an API provider, sometimes one will see people building their software on top of bugs, or on undocumented features, and a flat-out rule as Linus states is damned stupid. One needs to be able to fix bugs, making changes that in the long run are best for code. These changes need to be managed carefully, ideally put between major kernel versions, well-announced, and so on, but they need to be able to happen. Defining ill-behaved applications as well-behaved is unhealthy, even if one has a short-term commitment to keep things working.
  • Mauro's choice of ENOENT is puzzling, although if he was changing the APIs to be more consistent with other APIs it may be excusable.
  • Pulseaudio should be doing a better job at handling signals. Software of its sort should probably be more resilient. Although all this would do is presumably give better warnings/errors; the change probably would have still broken the app.
  • Linus should probably get better meds.