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Re: [Patches] Any remaining uses of option groups?

On 6/13/13 3:15 PM, Joseph S. Myers wrote:
My previous message removing a bitrotten and ill-conceived option group
<http://www.eglibc.org/archives/patches/msg01257.html> did not elicit any
responses expressing interest in option groups at all.  So, I now ask:
does anyone have a current use case for the option groups feature?  That
is, is there still any significant use of EGLIBC in building new embedded
GNU/Linux systems that are so space-constrained that the few MB taken up
by all the EGLIBC shared libraries put together is so significant that the
limited proportion of that space that can be saved through option groups
actually matters?

We (Wind River) and we (Yocto Project) are still using this. It's one of the ways we generate very small filesystems. The number of users for the option groups is quite small, but it is a place where it's used.

The majority of the option groups that I know are commonly enabled in a small configuration are:


Most others are disabled.

http://git.yoctoproject.org/cgit/cgit.cgi/poky/tree/meta-yocto/conf/distro/poky-tiny.conf (look for DISTRO_FEATURES*)



The above is where the translation from the DISTRO_FEATURES turns into the option groups.

I suspect that option groups are an idea whose time is past: that the
space constraints that were relevant when option groups were added six and
a half years ago are not the space constraints that are relevant today,
that today's embedded GNU/Linux systems have vastly more software than was
usual then, and that any residual use for the feature is outweighed by the
extra complexity it introduces, the combinatorial explosion of different
feature combinations, mostly untested and likely broken, and the extra
difficulty it adds to merges from glibc.  Thus, I think it may well be
time to remove this feature, and with it the vast bulk of the divergence
from glibc.

I think they are still useful, but I agree. The usage of them is diminishing over time. I am starting to see a new class of '32-bit microcontrollers' that are using Linux (they're not really microcontrollers, they're traditional CPUs that are being sold into the microcontroller market... This is pretty much the last remaining place where this work is useful.

The same applies to the changes to make --disable-versioning work:
although those don't add complexity in the same way, --disable-versioning
is also an option to make a small space gain at the expense of breaking
ABI compatibility with the default configuration.  So it may well be the
case that removing --disable-versioning from glibc (and so from EGLIBC)
would be better than merging the --disable-versioning fixes to glibc.

I suspect this is far less used then even the option groups.

My suggestion regarding both of the above is that space-saving
configuration options are only now appropriate where they change neither
API nor ABI (so it's still reasonable to be able to eliminate some of the
IFUNC variants of a function, for example, as that doesn't affect the
public user interface).  Other things can already be removed by the user
at the whole-file level without needing any special configuration support
(e.g. locales or gconv modules).

I agree this is the major usage today. The option groups is really a limited user base. I'd easily estimate it at less then 1% of the current embedded users of Wind River and the Yocto Project.

An underlying principle here: I have long considered there to be a
distinction between EGLIBC the project to enhance glibc for embedded
systems, and EGLIBC the separate source tree.  The goal of enhancing
embedded system support (meaning embedded systems being built now, rather
than those of 2006) can now be fulfilled in the context of the glibc
source tree.  The separate source tree was a workaround for former
dysfunction in glibc development.  That reason for its existence no longer
exists, and the remaining use of the separate source tree is now (a) to
hold residual changes relative to glibc, as listed at
<http://www.eglibc.org/archives/patches/msg01261.html>, until those
features can be merged into glibc in some form, and (b) a few bits of
compatibility code to help existing EGLIBC users where e.g. a makefile
variable name changed in the course of merging a feature into glibc.

If you care about some some or all of the residual areas of difference, I
strongly encourage you to join in the process of merging patches to glibc
so the areas you care about cease to be differences between the two trees
at all and the separate tree can be made obsolete for you.  Active glibc
development means that differences between the two trees are quite likely
to become bitrotten in EGLIBC over time without someone actively watching
them and testing in those areas.

The two patches I care about right now (that I'm aware of) are the option groups and the 'ldconfig'/'ldd' to not require bash. For the former, I don't have much insight into how invasive they are. For the later, the patches were submitted -- and I know there is a pending action to get these submitted to the regular glibc group. I believe the only thing preventing it right now is some type of copyright assignment.

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