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Re: What demotivates debian-arm? [Was: Re: Bug#425011: gcc-4.1: FTBFS on m68k and arm, multiple definitions of ffi_prep_closure]


 I have not been much active on debian-arm@, but our work on
debian-embedded@ relies very much on arm port, and other arches ports.

 I get no money for my work, so I do it when i feel like doing it. I
also do not have a bussiness running, so i have to spend most of my
time working on a real job to pay my bills.

 Anyway, i think you all are great people, and there are some things
that worth to talk face-to-face with a beer in hand.

 Why don't you just meet at debian conference and talk about that?

 By know gcc-4.1 and gcc-4.2 are getting behind, why do not waste
your time working on it, instead flaming the list?

With a smiley face, thanks to all

Best Regards,
 Hector Oron

2007/5/18, Bill Gatliff <bgat@billgatliff.com>:

You know I luvs 'ya, so we can get all of this out into the open.  Don't
hold back anything, ok?  :)

Lennert Buytenhek wrote:
> The regular ARM port isn't in very good shape at all, and there is no indication that armeb or armel would end up doing any better.

Maybe I'm confused by the "armeb" and "armel" ports to which you refer.
This one:


... seems to be pretty good.  Maybe the internals aren't all that pretty
(I haven't looked), but given that it's only been in existence since
January '07, I'm willing to suggest that it's not really mature yet.
But in the abuse I've been giving it, it's held up pretty well.

> Well, I support dropping architectures that are not in good shape, and ARM is in that category.

Can you define the characteristics of an architecture that isn't in
"good shape"?  Sure, there are a lot of EABI-related patches left to
deal with, but that's to be expected with really new stuff.

> What arguments do you have for keeping badly maintained ports
> around?  (Where arguments that involve the dependency of someone's
> consulting business on the existence of a Debian ARM port do not
> count.)

For the record, my "consulting business" doesn't depend on Debian.
Period.  But I happen to think that if debian-arm were to get even a
fraction of the commercial attention that, say, Ubuntu gets, it'd be in
a lot better shape than it is now and we'd all benefit.  Which is why I
try to use it wherever I can--- so I can participate in and materially
promote that process.

Take Debian away, and I'll just go back to hand-building my runtime
environments like I did for years before coming over to Debian.  Debian
will become irrelevant to me, and I'll apply my time, skills, hardware
and other resources somewhere else.  It's that simple, and I won't lose
any sleep over it.  But I think it would be a _major_ loss to Linux,
Debian and the FOSS community to drop ARM.

The best argument I can think of for maintaining an ARM port is that by
doing so, you make it a lot easier to keep the code in many, many
projects a lot cleaner and platform-independent.  Cleaner, more
platform-independent code is more reliable and more easily maintained.
Platform-independence as a requirement fosters more "correctness".  And
a 15,000-package, ten-zillion line code base can use all the correctness
it can get!

> If I read the annual report correctly, ARM-the-company sold 2.4
> billion ARM core licenses in 2006, but now we can't find ARM CPUs
> anywhere?

The limited resource hasn't been hardware, it's been the attention of
people with the right skills.

True, it would be incredibly easy for ARM to fund a few Debian
developers.  But for some reason, they don't.  Their customers, like
Atmel, put a lot of money into Linux kernels.  Maybe those guys are a
better source for Debian dollars?  (Who knows, they might already be
funding some behind-the-scenes work).

> Since we're on the subject of "things that demotivate people to work
> on the Debian ARM port" anyway, knowing that someone else is being
> paid to work on some issue or might be paid to work on that issue is
> a very good motivator not to work on that issue yourself.

I fundamentally and completely disagree.

For the people who "don't know what to do", having someone consistently
available to them who DOES know what to do is a real benefit.  Whether
that resource is getting paid to be there or not is of little concern.
My opinion, of course.

It's tough to be doing anything consistently when you're constantly
distracted by the need to also maintain a day job somewhere else.  Which
means you aren't there for the "don't know what to do" crowd, which
means they stay in that state instead of becoming meaningful contributors.

> (Which is incidentally also the reason why a Debian ARM EABI port took so long -- if there was no money involved we would have had an ARM EABI port 6 or even 12 months earlier.)

My read was that the reason the ARM EABI port took so long was because
it involved a lot of code in a lot of places, which meant there was
considerable effort required to reach the point where it was self-hosting.

As for your "if there was no money involved" comment, why did you wait
to announce your EABI port (see above) until after Applied Data Systems
sponsored it, and why did you credit their sponsorship in your announcement?

And in that announcement, which is dated January 10, 2007, you claim to
have not started working on EABI until November 24, 2006.  So I don't
know where your "6 or even 12 months" is coming from.  Sounds like you
didn't make any meaningful progress until ADS made it such that you
didn't have to get distracted by a bunch of other stuff for a few
weeks.  And when they did, you turned out work product in less than two

(Kudos to you and ADS, btw).

> In that regard, I don't think that pitching your services on this
> mailing list is helping to motivate people to work on the issues that
> the Debian ARM port is currently facing very much.

... which is why I saved the motivation bits for the last paragraph.
The rest was my vote against eliminating ARM, citing reasons I think
debian-arm isn't getting the attention it deserves, and offering to help
connect my resources (skills, time, but no funding) with others (no
skills or time, but available funding) to come up with a way to keep
debian-arm moving forward.

If you want to work on a volunteer basis, you're certainly free to do so
(if you don't, that's fine too but it'd be a real loss and I for one
would miss you greatly).  Some of us would also love to come to the
party, but can't for all kinds of reasons.  Now everyone knows mine, and
if they want to see me there more often then they know how to help.  It
pains me a bit to admit my shortcomings, but I won't apologize for being
honest and realistic about myself here.

Finally, the fact that I get paid money to develop embedded systems puts
YOU off Debian?  That doesn't sound much like my problem.  And I don't
think you speak for the debian-arm community as a whole when you say
that, either.


Bill Gatliff

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Héctor Orón

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