Re: sysctl should disable ECN by default
On Wed, 5 Sep 2001, T.Pospisek's MailLists wrote:
>>> The question is only if devices should be programmed in order to know
>>> the future and it's potential proposed stadards by the IETF. Mind you I
>>> don't know if the devices in question (websites, routers etc. droping ECN
>>> packets) *are* violating a standard that was current at *their* time. The
>>> routers in particular I think *are* wrong, since they are making decisions
>>> based on bits that at that time were reserved.
>> The devices in question *are* violating the standards that existed at the time
>> they were created. The bits that they're fiddling with are *reserved*. That
>> means "don't touch". They were in violation of the TCP/IP protocol from day
>> one, it's just that it's only now that the IETF is making use of those bits,
>> /as is their right/, that the problem with this equipment has come to light.
> That's what I was saying wasn't I?
You appeared to be allowing the possibility that the manufacturers of these
devices were in the wrong. I am stating that it is unequivocally so. In
other words, the bug is theirs. If the maintainers of the Debian packages in
question choose to accomodate routers that suffer from this bug, hooray for
them. If they choose not to, hooray for them -- there is no great moral
imperative which requires them to go to lengths to work around the bugs of
You may object that this contradicts the Social Contract, because our users
should be our priority. But these routers are broken; ECN will become a
standard; and the affected parties will have to replace their routers with
something that works, sooner or later. Is it more to our users' advantage in
the long term if we give them early warning that there is a problem, or if we
choose not to 'rock the boat' until it's too late and these same users wake up
one day to find themselves in a world where no operating system on the world
works with their router?
At least this way, users who have broken routers will find out about the
problem early, can easily disable the ECN behavior if they need to, and
can set about finding a solution to the real problem.
In addition, ECN provides some significant advantages for users who aren't
afflicted with Zylex routers.
> > > But tell me, in case there's an IMAP client that has some problems with
> > > the IMAP protocol. Should a Debian box by default *refuse* to talk
> > > to it or should the default be to try to talk to it (provided that it
> > > can)?
> > Are you joking? If someone filed a bug against my package saying I should
> > make changes to it to accomodate a broken client (equivalent: my IMAP server
> > sends back a valid IMAP response and this causes the client to segfault), I
> > would immediately close the bug with a smile and a have-a-nice-day.
> Good for you. And the people that *need* a working server as in "it forks
> for *me*" will move on and ignore you. That's your choice. It's the choice
> Debian is making now.
> But if care about the real world you will see that the philosophy of most
> software isn't "I'm right have-a-nice-day" but let's have "something that
> works". Check the kernel. Check IMAP servers (that's why I was choosing
> this example), check well whatever, many things try to cooperate with
> broken stuff.
I don't dispute that there are many cases where software authors are willing
to accomodate broken client / server behavior, whether their goal is market
share or mind share. I just disagree that authors/maintainers have any
*obligation* to accomodate software or hardware which is not
The solutions proposed to date all seem to be either contrary to policy, or
contrary to the wishes of the maintainers of the affected packages. Under
such circumstances, I don't see where there's cause for questioning the
> > c) sue the vendor for selling a product under false pretenses, with the
> > goal of achieving either a) or b) above.
> Do *you* do that for all the things that don't work as they should?
Yes, quite frankly. Personally, I use only Free Software and software that
runs on top of Free OSes. Professionally, I work for an ISP, and we expect
our vendors to live up to the promises they make.
> And even if, why should you force others to behave similary?
Me? I'm not forcing anyone to do anything. I'm merely pointing out that
users of broken equipment do have other recourses besides expecting Debian to