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Re: Wow, hadn't realized this list was active

dan writes:

> Alright, first off I'd like to point everyone to my essay regarding
> this subject:  http://bugg.strangled.net/debbsd.txt
> I used to be a rabid debian user, now I'm a freebsd nut.
> I am involved soley to prevent FreeBSD's kernel from forking, which
> will happen if you take any of the methods that I've been hearing
> discussed the most (For more information, check that link)

I don't see any good reason to fork the FreeBSD kernel. As I see it, it is
completely within Debian standard practice to create patches as needed to
make things work in Debian, and submit those patches to the original

Obviously, it would be good to make any patches minimal, and submit them
back to FreeBSD. This is normal practice, however.

> As for whoever made that comment about FreeBSD being a dying OS,
> they obviously need to look at the facts.  FreeBSD 3.4 just hit RELEASE 
> earlier today.  FreeBSD has supported USB for awhile now, and USB is
> just one example of where FreeBSD's development shines.  There are
> roughly 50 code changes to the development branch of freebsd (-CURRENT)
> per day.  That is a high amount of development
> (Note, by code changes I'm referring to cvs commits, which as all of us
> CVS freaks know can be big or small.  For more information on how rapidly
> the FreeBSD kernel is being developed, check http://www.freebsd.org/, 
> mailing lists, and read cvs-commiters)

I don't agree with that comment, either, or I wouldn't be interested in
doing anything with it...

> My essay discusses in detail why I don't feel that Debian GNU/FreeBSD
> is needed by either side.  Also, the scripts that I refer to developing
> to automate the updating of packages are working with better sucess then
> I could have hoped for so shortly into their life.  Snatch them at
> http://bugg.strangled.net/scripts/ if you'd like.

I don't see where you discuss this on your page. You say why you think it
may be a bad idea, but not why it is not needed. Those aren't the same
thing exactly...  And I think that with appropriate use of CVS and package
dependacies, it should be possible to manage everything except the CURRENT
tree without any serious difficulties or without major code forking.

Why? Because when a FreeBSD release comes out, it can be pulled into a CVS
and merged in with a Debianized source package. As long as there aren't any
packages requiring drastic changes, (we should avoid that like the plague,
IMHO) the only thing to left is simply depending the system binary packages
on the kernel release. That should take care of it nicely, unless upgrading
the system binaries before rebooting with the new kernel would break...

> Has anyone actually tried to do anything? 

I have to wait until I can get a little time and a couple spare boxes. I
figure on building a normal FreeBSD box and a test system to try things on.
If I can get permission from my boss, I may be able to provide logins for
people wanting to do actual work.

> I tried porting dpkg to FreeBSD,
> to make a FreeBSD Port (http://www.freebsd.org/ports and my essay for more)
> except it uses many linux/glibc-isms, including things like sys/sysinfo.h
> A non-halfassed port would take some time... much more time than worthwhile.

Depends on what's worthwhile to you. That's really the whole point of this
discussion. I think that if Debian can successfully be ported to a BSD
kernel and to the Hurd, then it has just become a (somewhat) portable unix
userland rather than just a Linux distro. That seems to me to be quite
worthwhile.  Porting glibc might just improve it. Porting it to FreeBSD
might well bring bugs in both to the light. (Which can then be fixed...)

> As for porting glibc to FreeBSD, glibc already lives a full life in /compat/linux   

So in that case, why would it be so difficult to port it? Unless glibc in
the /compat/linux is already "halfassed"?

> I recently updated my /compat/linux to glibc2.1, using the same 'ol glibc
> package that you would have.  (Well, I used an rpm)
> And as a sidenote, it is not linux emulation.  Linux compatiblity mode, or
> just linux compat or linux mode is a much more accurate term.  It works quite
> well.  I use it for my X server (as SuSE doesn't release source right away
> anymore), VMWare (well, my computer is too slow for it, but I did use it
> to see if I could and it ran and booted windows, etc.), StarOffice, WordPerfect,
> netscape, realplayer, mtv, and the list goes on.

Perhaps it would be simplest to adapt that compatibility mode to support
most of the Debian userspace? I'd guess that this is really just support
for the Linux ELF format, some libraries, and maybe some syscall
compatability support.

> If you can still think of many shortcomings to FreeBSD, please try to improve
> them by improving FreeBSD first.  We don't appreciate a fork in our OS, as
> we have yet to have a free fork of FreeBSD.. but we'd understand if it arose
> due to a difference in views.  Unfortunately, I think we all want the same thing.. 
> So it looks like that some of you zealots will have to "cope" with the fact
> that FreeBSD doesn't have the word Debian in front of it and instead start
> looking at the problem as what you truly want:
> An OS that is easy for Debian users to use with the advantages of FreeBSD.

No one in their right mind likes forking an OS. But on the other hand, I
haven't heard that anyone has complained of Debian packages being forks.
Whether what is done would truly constitute a fork remains to be seen. If
any patches made by Debian are given to FreeBSD, and nothing is done that
FreeBSD finds blatantly unacceptable, I see no reason why it would need to
be a real fork.

I personally don't consider myself a zealot. I am interested in the FreeBSD
kernel as an alternate kernel under the Debian userland.  I'm just not in
the least interested in dealing with the FreeBSD userland.  I'd like to be
able to manage it like I do with Debian today.

I see no reason to spend a lot of time anguishing over what it will do to
either Debian or FreeBSD. Both exist now, and have separate, but not
completely incompatible goals. I see no reason why any improvements made by
Debian wouldn't be submitted to FreeBSD (IIRC it's normal Debian practice
to put patches to BSD licensed source under BSD license), nor any reason
why Debian couldn't track the FreeBSD CVS trees if it wants to.

I think the biggest danger to FreeBSD (or Debian) in this is probably
negative attitude and unwillingness to cooperate.
> Thoughts, opinions, flames, whatever can be sent to bugg@bugg.strangled.net
> and/or this mailing list.  I don't think that this project is a good idea,
> but should it continue anyway I will contribute time/advice/programming to
> making sure that the project proceeds in the least possible damaging way
> to FreeBSD has a whole.

I don't see why the FreeBSD project should be damaged. There are certainly
things that Debian users will want that would be good for FreeBSD as a

For instance it would be good for the FreeBSD kernel to be able to boot and
function from an ext2fs. Don't know if it already can, but if it can't, I'd
expect someone will probably try to implement it. This is NOT a bad thing
for FreeBSD, any more than it is bad for Linux to support the bsd
disklabels and filesystem in the kernel.

Similarly, Debian might find it convenient to fix fdisk so that the intel
version has bsd disklabel support. (The upstream source is broken.) Or
include a mkfs for FFS. This sort of thing isn't bad. 

People in the FreeBSD project AND the Debian project need to think
rationally about this: there is no particular reason why cooperating with
each other needs to be a bad thing. It would definitely be different, but
there's no reason for it to be bad unless people make it that way.  In
fact, I think that FreeBSD people could easily ensure that no code fork
takes place, simply by helping instead of attacking.

Religous attitudes about licenses and not-invented-here need to be relaxed
on both sides. If that can happen, I think that FreeBSD should benefit as
much as Debian. FreeBSD could get more people using it's kernel, (and being
exposed to it at all) while Debian can become less Linux dependent and more
portable. Good for both.   Jordan Hubbard has a good article here:
http://freshmeat.net/news/1998/07/13/900364444.html    Please read it. I
       "[...] What we can do, however, is to continue to *strongly* promote
       any and all ties between the various free software groups and also
       actively encourage users to familiarize themselves with each and
       every one of the various types of free software out there, whether
       they're currently "pledged" to a given cause or not. Not only will
       this experience help to shatter some of the walls of mistrust and
       general acrimony between the various clans, but it can also
       benefit those who are firmly convinced that they wish to stick with
       a certain one."

I have not heard that Debian has been bad to deal with for upstream
developers of applications. I think that this need not be different. (In
terms of cooperation.)

      ---Nathan Hawkins

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