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Unaligned trap warnings...update

Hi all...

Ok, after MUCH discussion with Richard Henderson regarding possible
alignment problems generated by gcc/binutils, we've both concluded that
it's not gcc or binutils' fault that these warnings are popping up.  In
fact, it's the programmes themselves coupled with the 2.0.x kernels that
are responsible for "overnotification" of these warnings.

If anyone is interested in the details, I'd be happy to give them a more
proper explanation, but I feel that this is not the forum for a technical
discussion regarding this.

After the discussion, though, I feel that I must propose that the Alpha
distribution "team" switch to the 2.1.x kernels ASAP.  I suggest this for
a few reasons....

First of all, Richard is going to provide me with a patch to the kernel
to eliminate unaligned trap warnings on a process-based level.  This would
allow us to run programmes like fdisk and identd, which both use unaligned
pointer access and will continue to do so until rewritten properly,
without having to "bother" or worry our users with tons of console warning

Secondly, given the upcoming importance of IPv6, I personally feel that we
should probably address the changeover as soon as possible.  Since the
latest nettools supports IPv6, the changeover may not be as difficult as
we might think and will be transparent to end-users until they're ready
for IPv6 implementation.  At the same time, if they decide to "toy" with
IPv6, it will allow them to do so without having to compile separate
versions of nettools and some other packages.

Lastly, I'm cautiously hopeful that the 2.2 kernel will be released before
we're ready to officially release Debian-Alpha 2.0.  Since the Alpha
architecture has always been "ahead" of the x86 distributions (we made the
transition to glibc first as far as I know), I would personally like to
continue the tradition of keeping the Alpha on the forefront of
technology.  At the same time, however, I feel that the Debian "stability
and consistency" issues are valid and will probably suggest the same to
the debian-devel list soon anyway.  I would hate to go against the grain
of Debian distributions :)

For everyone's info, I have compiled and booted a working 2.1.50 kernel
already on my Alpha without problems.  Modules still seem to be broken
AXP-wise, but that should be solved relatively easily if we make a
concerted effort to do so.  Also, before everyone goes ahead an boots a
2.1.x kernel right now, I want to inform everyone about the TONS of bug
reports still being reported in the kernel development lists.  The new
filesystem rewrite is still pretty rough right now and MAY cause data
corruption (although I haven't seen any, but I haven't "pushed the
envelope" yet).  Work is progressing on this rapidly, however, which is
why I personally feel that the 2.2 kernel isn't far away.  Amazingly
enough, for trivia's sake, I haven't seen too much input from Linus
regarding this kernel on the list.  This really shows that alot of
competent people are familiar enough with the kernel now that Linus' hope
of "open kernel development" is finally realised :)

Well, that's about it.  If anyone has any issues with glibc or gcc, please
let me know and I'll pass it on to Richard ASAP.  Considering how much
I've perused the source code of both, I've become familiar enough with
both to act as a tentative liaison regarding the Alpha.  Plus, with my
experience from compiling alot of packages already, I may be able to
provide work-arounds for common problems.

Oh, a quick word of warning regarding gcc....please try to avoid using the
-ansi switch unless you're using STRICT (I mean *STRICT* ANSI C).  Even
common glibc headers, which are thought to be ANSI-compliant by most
configure scripts, may barf when compiled with the -ansi switch.

That's it for now.  Sorry for the length of this, but I think it's
important for everyone to know the status of the unaligned trap warnings
that we've seen every so often as well as open up some discussion on the
pros and cons of switching to the new kernel.

Oh, one more thing.  I just want to give alot of thanks and congrats to
everyone who's been working on this project as well as everyone who's been
installing Debian on their Alphas.  We've come a long way in a short time
and, with some luck and work, we'll soon have a distribution that will
probably steal some of RedHat's thunder :)  I'm also happy that we've kept
this distribution "clean" (ie, few patches needed...especially for glibc
and other core components).  That alone deserves a HUGE pat on the back :)

Thanks again :)

 Christopher C. Chimelis          chris@classnet.med.miami.edu
 Systems Supervisor
 Division of Biomedical Communications
 University of Miami School of Medicine
 --> finger chris@classnet.med.miami.edu for PGP public key <--

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