Monthly Archives: July 2005

GWN Kernel Feedback

In this week’s Gentoo newsletter we included a request for feedback on possibly stopping development of gentoo-sources-2.4 and removing it from the tree.

John M has already written about the new plan of action in response to this feedback, but as we have recieved a fair quantity of interesting feedback, I thought it might be worth sharing some of it.

Most of the mails are from people who apparently misread the article, thinking that we are dropping Linux 2.4 completely. People were very keen to remind us of certain software and hardware which doesn’t work on 2.6.

One user thought he was doomed to 2.4 simply because his hardware is unsupported in any kernel, however Promise do provide 2.4-only drivers on their websites. Fortunately, all that is needed is a small patch to get this working on recent 2.6 kernels, so Linux should support Promise TX4200 SATA controllers very soon.

Some users reported that they are stuck to 2.4 because of their wireless cards – support is not available in 2.6, and the vendors insist on producing drivers for 2.4 only.

We suspect that the other alien hardware incompatibilities that were reported to us are already supported in 2.6, but we have yet to recieve the information to confirm this.

A few users reminded us that our OpenAFS ebuilds are so outdated that they don’t run on 2.6 at all. Fortunately, Seemant assures us that he’s been fuelling his production line and a new OpenAFS package maintainer should be ready for public consumption sometime soon.

We recieved a couple of more interesting mails, for example this guy, who ‘gets’ how Gentoo works:

I migrated our desktops and servers from 2.4 to 2.6 a number of months ago, so I encourage discontinuation of 2.4. The more people on 2.6 the easier it will be to maintain.

Notice in the above email he referred to “our desktops“. Many of the emails were written in this tone – from a corporate environment. People saying “we use”, “we migrated”, “…a big concern for us”, etc. Doesn’t anyone use Gentoo just because its fun anymore? :)

Another user pointed out that Gentoo rocks because it’s very easy to still be using a 2.4 kernel without also having to run packages that are a year out of date.

Thats about all so far. Thanks for all the feedback, we’ll probably get something in next weeks newsletter to conclude.

Extended Attribute Mono bindings, now for FreeBSD and Linux

Back in April I contributed Extended Attribute (xattr) bindings to Mono, for use on Linux systems.

I’ve just committed a new version of these, creating a transparent layer, so that these bindings work exactly the same on FreeBSD as they do on Linux. On FreeBSD systems, this will make use of FreeBSD’s extattr API – effectively making the use of extended attributes somewhat portable. The interface which Mono exposes is still the Linux xattr API, but the slight differences between xattr/extattr are handled accordingly by the mono runtime. Thanks to Stephen Bennett (spb from Gentoo) for letting me test things on his FreeBSD install.

Extended attributes are metadata (key/value pairs) that you can apply to files, directories, and symlinks. For example, a program could store the mime-type of a file in an attribute to prevent the need to look it up in future. Extended attributes are nice, because they are stored in/near the file inode, making them cheap to use if you are going to be using the file anyway. Beagle uses them internally and suffers quite a bit when it has to resort to using a traditional database instead.

I’ve also been working on improving the unicode handling in the System.Uri class, which is pretty nasty.