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Re: Progress on the Alpha distribution at debian-ports

On 13/02/12 10:56, Bob Tracy wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 02:37:44PM +1300, Michael Cree wrote:
>> You may have noticed that we have the majority of the unstable
>> distribution (was over 95% a week ago) built at Debian-Ports. It is
>> reasonably up-to-date with many problems in the toolchain fixed, the
>> kernel up to date, Gnome 3 built and installable [1], and other software
>> like iceweasel built and working [2].  I hope some of you have it
>> installed and are trying it out!
> I seized the occasion of this announcement to try again and figure out a
> way past my Gnome 3 upgrade issues, 
> When I saw that "evolution", "gnome-core",
> and other essentials would finally be upgraded instead of removed, I knew
> I had the solution :-).

So how is Gnome3 for you?

It always starts up in fallback mode for me.  I do have radeon KMS
runnning, but mesa is using the software DRI renderer.  That might be
why it starts in fallback mode.   My experience is that Gnome generally
works but with normal usage it is not long before I hit a segmentation
violation somewhere.   I have had Gnome totally bomb out and I am back
at the login window.  It wouldn't surprise me if some (most?) of these
crashes are due to either:

1) Packages that were built with the buggy gcc-4.4 and should be rebuilt
with gcc-4.6 (but which ones are they????).
2) The pulseaudio crash.

>> I have put quite a bit of work into this over the last six months, but
>> is a work rate that I will not be able to keep up past April this year.
> Left to speculation is what kind of work rate you might find sustainable
> past April :-).

I am off overseas for a couple of weeks to attend my brother's wedding,
and on my return work will be extremely busy for the next couple of
months so I probably won't have many spare evenings.

>> Quite a number of people in this forum were horrified at the
>> discontinuation of Debian Linux on Alpha and spoke up for a rear-guard
>> action to get another release of the distribution.
> The reasons for discontinuation of Debian Linux on Alpha were, and
> presumably remain, valid.  You, Bill, and I leapt into the breach, and
> in my case at least, it was an honest attempt to see exactly what kind
> of effort was going to be required to keep the Debian distro reasonably
> up-to-date.

Indeed.  And it has become clear that there is a lot of work to get the
Alpha port up to speed.  And there is still quite a bit of work to do.

But we do have the toolchain in much better shape.  The nasty
optimisation bugs in gcc are no longer plaguing us, the kernel is up to
date (but see comments below), and we have got more fixes into libc.
Thus we have the core technologies in place for Wheezy --- it is now
time to get the higher level/desktop application software going.

(The annoying GPREL16 relocation errors bug in the linker remains but we
can work around it.)

> I'll try to make the sales pitch here...  Frankly, it has been a lot of
> fun for me to run an Alpha system on the so-called bleeding edge. 

And I too am having quite a bit of fun doing this.

> Haven't heard from traditional community participants like Ivan
> Kokshaysky in many months.

I don't think I've seen him on the linux-alpha email list some time,
but, in general, I have found that he does pop up when prodded.

The Alpha port of the kernel is only (relatively) up to date because
people like myself and Matt Turner have stepped up to maintain it.  We
fix and attend to the easier problems, and do our best to prod Ivan or
Richard (the old maintainers) into action on the difficult problems.

>> [2] Provided that you do not use pulseaudio.  If pulseaudio is running
>> with a newer kernel then iceweasel will crash and will be unuseable.
> This is that #$%@! pulseaudio mutex bug we can't seem to get anyone to
> fix.  There *is* a documented workaround: see Debian bug #649641.
> Unfortunately, this *does* require building the pulseaudio package from
> source.

I have started work on this one.  I am fairly convinced that it is _not_
a pulseaudio bug, but a kernel bug.  And if that is indeed the case then
I think it is better that the pulseaudio maintainers do not apply the
workaround.  Sweeping it under the carpet could allow us to ignore a
much deeper and much more signficant problem.


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