Thank You, Linus

I used to be of the opinion that Linus Torvalds was too nasty at times but that was before I encountered Kernel Mode Setting and a mess of driver changes. I have several different types of PC with Intel VGA and I have seen more black screens in the last six months than in the previous nine years of using GNU/Linux.

Linus spake thusly:
“why does drm always have to be so messy?

You guys pull each others trees, and then rebase them. Yes, git is
smart enough that it will merge it all fine, but dammit, now that
multi-hundred-line Radeon commit exists twice in the tree. Do this:

git show –stat 16790569eddf fba4312e223f
git show –stat 21e2eae4daae a41c73e04673

and cry.

And yeah, it’s ugly. And if that patch introduces a regression (which
is entirely possible, it’s not like it’s small and trivial and
obviously correct) it will just make bisection harder, and add
confusion. And it’s totally pointless. It only adds pain. And it
makes the history harder to read.”

He’s writing about the surge in DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) modifications which include mistakes, regressions and duplications and make debugging and analyzing faults much more difficult. This is sound practice: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). It takes patience and discipline to keep things simple. Linus asks developers to reflect on what they do wrong and improve. Good for him. I have compiled/built the 2.6.34 and 2.6.36 Linux kernels hoping that the black screens would go away but still they persist.
Nov 17 14:51:04 cfsl6 kernel: [ 1585.436181] [drm:i915_hangcheck_elapsed] *ERROR* Hangcheck timer elapsed
… GPU hung
Nov 17 14:51:04 cfsl6 kernel: [ 1585.436195] render error detected, EIR: 0x00000000
Nov 17 14:51:04 cfsl6 kernel: [ 1585.436213] [drm:i915_do_wait_request] *ERROR* i915_do_wait_request returns -5 (awaiting 5932 at 5931)

That is not the kind of quality we have come to expect from Linux and Linus is doing the right thing to improve things. Good luck to him. At this point, I am torn between reverting to Debian Lenny which did not have these problems. The deciding factor is that the users really like the speed which beats that other OS every way and even with the occasional black screen (randomly, about once every couple of weeks per user) Squeeze is a better choice. I know I should have waited for Squeeze to be ready but too many features were tempting…

Patience comes to him who waits.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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One Response to Thank You, Linus

  1. oldman says:

    “That is not the kind of quality we have come to expect from Linux and Linus is doing the right thing to improve things. ”

    Unfortunately, pog this kind of undisciplined behavior is precisely the kind of thing that has kept me away from the “pure” distributions like debian and led me to favor commercial distribution like red hat and its free clone CentOS. Red Hat/CentOs may lack the latest bells and whistles, but makes up for this in a rock solid stability

    “Patience comes to him who waits.”

    Not to mention the fact that if you “break” you carefully crafted environment by succumbing to beta-itis, you may undermine your users faith in your abilities.

    I recommend a regression to Lenny.

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