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Bug reports, patches and other stuff


I have finally set up a (working) pure Debian system from Pasi's
base1_3.tgz, and I've got some comments and suggestions.

First, there are still bugs in some of the currently available binary
packages, from segfaults in in.ftpd to just bad dependencies.  Most of
these bugs are specific for the Alpha port, so there is no point in
reporting them to their primary maintainers.  We have to handle them
ourselves and then fill the official bug reports with patches included.

This is the reason why I have set up a small bug tracking system,
designed to aid in just remembering the bugs in the distribution and
making them known to others.  Anybody who wants to help with the port
is welcome to take over any of the open bugs, to report new bugs, to add
comments etc. via that system, which is accessible via the WWW at

Second, I have built several packages, most of them having bugfixes.
These packages are temporarily available at
ftp://genie.ucd.ie/pub/ftp/alpha/debian, although I would like to get
them to some more or less standard place, like Christopher's.
These packages are:
	dpkg- (incl. -dev, highly recommended for development), 
	netstd-2.16 (fixes telnet and in.ftpd),
	netbase-2.17 (required for netstd),
	apache (which serves the bug tracking system),
and also the binaries for /bin/more and /sbin/insmod (I did not rebuild
the whole packages).

I think that the Debian/Alpha effort is not quite well organised at the
moment.  The first thing I would like to see now is at least to get all
the binary packages together.  Master is not a good place for this (see
Michael Alan Dorman's explanation why).  What, I think, we need is some
place to keep binary packages toghether with the patches (like, "second
level" patches) which have been applied to their Debian source packages
to make those binaries.  These patches will eventually get merged with
the main distribution.

This centralisation will hopefully help people find packages more easily
and will also eliminate duplicate efforts (with the help of the bug
recording system).

Probably Christopher's machine can do this (at least it has write
permissions on incoming), if he does not object.  (Do you, Christopher?)
Or we can go with genie.

Please do not say that this is essentially a proposal to establish an
alternative distribution.  The Alpha port is too young, it needs more
open development model than the one Debian provides.  Many people
willing to participate in the port are not official Debian developers,
and a strict policy can just frighten them away.  After all, Debian
developers can verify all external contributions and upload the packages
to master.

Third, about the kernel to use.  I don't know what is going on with
2.1.x, I just remember that 2.1.37 was SO buggy, and the sound driver
did not work at all (I cannot live without the sound driver!), so
probably it is not quite stable yet.  As it follows from Christopher's
.message, modules do not seem to work.  So, I think we should stick
to patched 2.0.30 for the first time.

The set of patches I use to get a nicely working kernel resides here
on genie (ftp://genie.ucd.ie/pub/alpha/kernel/ -- see the README file).
Basically, the following changes are desirable:
	2.0.31-pre.7 (don't remember the name exactly);
	reduced set of Jay's alpha-patches-2.0.30-1 (we don't need those
		which change kernel headers, as we run glibc-2);
	my fix for alpha-patches;
	my sound driver fixes;
	my epoch stuff;
	some other fixes.

I propose to make the RTC driver mandatory and to use *only* the /dev/rtc
interface to set system clock on bootup.  That's where the epoch stuff
comes in handy and will hopefully eliminate a Very Frequently Asked
Question "my system says it's 2017 year, but the ARC console shows it OK!".
The solution proposed is to autodetect the epoch (unfortunately, I have
to do it in the kernel because of the RTC driver design, but that's only
a few bytes).

Please tell me what you think about all this.

Thank you very much,


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