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SubjectRe: [GIT PULL linux-next] Add Compiler Attributes tree
Hi Ted,

On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 at 5:33 PM Theodore Y. Ts'o <> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 03, 2018 at 01:54:05PM +0200, Miguel Ojeda wrote:
> >
> > Exactly. And for this case, I simply assumed Stephen wanted a clean
> > series to apply on top of the latest next-* tag (same way we base
> > stuff on top of -rc*s). Note that this is *not* really a "tree"
> > collecting changes/development, it is a patch series, i.e. what is
> > important is only the range-diff.
> >
> > What has surprised me is that -next does not allow for range-diffs
> > (patches/commits/...) to be inside -next, maybe applied after all the
> > normal merges of trees. I simply assumed it did, given what I could
> > find about -next (which does not seem to be documented properly, by
> > the way).
> Part of the reason why I wrote my long message was because the -next
> tree usage has been mostly by convention. Better documentation would
> be a good thing; I think the main reason why we don't have it is that
> historically, the people who submit direct pull requests to Linus
> already know how things work. Obviously that's not a great
> assumption, but in fact there are a large number of things about what
> is needed to be a subsystem maintainer which needs to be documented,
> and the linux-next tree is just one part of it. (And perhaps not even
> the biggest part.)

It not a bad assumption either -- I happen to be one a very odd
maintainer because I have not been actively contributing for years so
I missed the -next implementation, so it is fine, I don't blame anyone
for my mistake; still a few lines would be fine: who is the
maintainer, where to send the patches, who should be Cc'd, etc. :-)

> Historically there was one source of changes into the linux-next tree
> which was done as quilt-style patch series, and that was Andrew
> Morton's mmotm tree. Part of the problem is that it's a lot more work
> to consume a patch series, and so these days while Andrew still uses a
> patch series, he exports a git tree[1] which is what I believe Stephen
> and Linus use. (For that matter, I use a patch series[2] as well, but
> the public interface is the ext4.git tree on

Hm... I agree that patches (i.e. referring to the email workflow) are
a pain, but I am not sure why the actual "patches" (i.e. referring to
the commits/diffs) need to be harder to work with. Maybe we don't have
the tools for that yet. For instance, the new git range-diff command
is actually quite good to compare versions of series after rebasing.

> [1]
> [2]
> > While this is a simple conflict, I don't really agree with release
> > maintainers having to fix conflicts on the fly (even if it is a single
> > trivial line), but that is an orthogonal discussion...
> Sure; there are some srtong reasons for it, but we can save that for
> the Maintainer's Handbook discussion. I will say that this is
> something where attempts to avoid Linus needing to fix conflicts on
> the fly, such as a rebase right before a PULL request, violates
> Linus's rules which has in the past resulted in him expressing a
> "strong" correction e-mail to Maintainers since it was assumed that
> they really should have known better. Linus has said he doesn't want
> to yell at Maintainers, so we can support him by getting the
> Maintainer's Handbook out there. :-)

Yeah, I actually got the correction myself :-) I understand Linus'
reasons about the benefits of using the merges (and I agree that
information shouldn't be dropped); but I think there has to be a
better way to handle conflicts. (See below).

> > Alright, I am not sure how to answer this without sounding
> > "aggressive" and maybe I misunderstood something you tried to point
> > out, so I apologize in advance. There are several points here:
> >
> > * The merge conflict isn't related to this (but let's assume it was,
> > since you pointed this out as an example -- I guess; although I am not
> > sure why).
> I thought I was clear that I used it as an example, but my apologies
> if that didn't come across.

No apologies needed!

> > - Changes should include everything related to them (as far as
> > possible, i.e. extreme examples aside). Adding __nonstring and not
> > removing the ext4 part would simply be leaving undone work (which has
> > to be done sooner or later). To be honest, it could have even been
> > done in the same commit and I would say it is logically OK (even if
> > not great).
> > ...
> >
> > You seem to argue that it is better to avoid merge conflicts rather
> > than doing a proper series. Well, I think we should really try to
> > avoid conflicts pushing down the """quality""" of
> > patches/commits/series.
> And I think this is where the disagreement lies, which is why I
> bothered to send my long missive in the first place. From my point of
> view, and I suspect many maintainers share this, avoiding merge
> conflicts is way important than making sure everything is "done" in a
> single patch series. There have been plenty of changes where cleanup
> is done latter, and/or where preparatory patches are done in one
> release, and the big change happens in the next release, 3 months
> later.

I agree with that being a problem for huge changes and/or developed in
parallel. Still, if we have -next (which is meant precisely to test
integration), we should not have to reduce nor split the amount of
work on the trees just to solve integration in most cases, no? That is
my point. (See again below).

> That's because some of the alternatives, such as basing your git tree
> on an unstable head branch, such as linux-next, or a last minute
> rebase which means that the actual patches that which gets the pull
> rebase hasn't been tested or soaked in linux-next, are far worse
> because it can lead to lower quality git trees getting merged during
> the merge window.
> There is a tension here between maximizing the "quality" of a patch
> series, and maximizing the "quality" of the git trees that feed into
> the merge window. Or perhaps the better way of saying this is
> minimizing the risk of bad changes getting integreted during the merge
> window. Some technical debt which gets cleaned up in the next release
> is in my view a very low price to pay in order to minimize risk.

I see this tension as a missing piece of the puzzle. I am not an
expert on the kernel, but I worked in the past on a system similar to
what Stephen is doing: merging many quasi-independent trees at CERN
(but it was not Git in that case, but CVS; yeah... :-).

The problem we had there was similar: 1000+ projects with changes
depending on each other in many, many cases. We had a "release
manager" (similar to what Stephen is doing) sorting it all out in time
to make the release required for the CMS detector -- they suffered a

We ended up designing a system to make cross-project changes called
"tagsets" (equivalent to the Next/* files included in linux-next). I
also added support for assigning dependencies to other pending (or
done) tagsets in a graph. Cycles in the graph meant changes had to go
in at the same time. The dependencies were plotted in an SVG graph
drawn by Graphviz. All this in a webapp to make it convenient for
remote developers and release managers. Fun times :-)

This served as a transition step from CVS to Git (and nowadays I think
everything is done with standard PRs in GitHub AFAIK). However, it
seems we are having the same problem. Although it is much easier to
handle (less trees, git rerere, better tooling, etc.), Stephen still
has a custom system to deal with all the trees, so it seems there *is*
something missing. (...continuing below using the example)

> Part of this is because I've had to waste time debugging changes made
> to the ext4 sources which came in via someone else's git tree that
> were "obviously correct" or "trivial changes" --- but they weren't.
> Most of the time they get caught as part of linux-next testing, but
> not always. So sometimes the interests of one subsystem maintainer
> can end up conflicting with the interests of the patch series author,
> or the interests of another subsystem maintainer. And that's why we
> have some of these "cultural understandings", many of which we clearly
> need to document.

(...from above) Yes, indeed, but the point is that changes should be
able to be done in different parts of the kernel crossing trees and
decided by everyone.

We have this problem only because we have ended up dividing the kernel
in so many almost-independent trees (and mailing lists) that, in the
end, it is like having several independent projects; which then in
turn requires a custom system to sort out everything again (which is
the same problem we faced at CMS).

So either a) we are missing a system to actually handle this kind of
mega-project composed of smaller projects (like Stephen's, or the
already-retired one at CMS); or b) we are missing way to discuss
changes globally that scales (so that splitting trees is not required
and the problem goes away).

Just to be clear, I don't have a magical solution for this :-) I am
just saying that it looks very, very familiar to me and that, if we
had that something, those problems about wasting time debugging
changes made to different trees shouldn't be there; and therefore we
wouldn't need to drop patches, leave dead code for defensive reasons,
rejecting work, creating technical debt, etc.

Maybe the "solution" should be a new webapp to sort out kernel
development better. Maybe it should be a better discussion platform
other than email. Maybe it should be some Git support for managing
many dependent "subtrees" with possible dependencies, preparing
"releases", doing "super-merges" of all trees when ready (e.g. merge
window) -- basically linux-next and Stephen's scripts, but kept in the
repository itself; so that Linus could simply "trigger" the full merge
on the merge window, etc.

> (And yes, in this case I didn't object to the cleanup being in your
> patch series; normally I don't care, unless it actually break things.
> I was just trying to make the point from my perspective, nothing
> *required* that the change be in your git tree, and if it *was*
> causing the problem, I had gone out of my way to make sure to make it
> easy for you to drop the change; and from my perspective I was doing
> you --- and me :-) --- a favor when I added the outer #ifndef, which I
> had done with full consideration, specifically for this reason. Even
> if the definition was different, my definition *had* been fully tested
> with over a 27+ VM hours of regression testing, and if it turned out
> that they were different, cleaning that up three months from now in
> the next release is just *fine* as far as I'm concerned.)

Yes, of course your change was tested, and that is a good thing. My
point is simply that it is still misleading, and it is still better to
simply do it kernel-wide if possible (which goes back to: we currently
have effectively independent projects going on). The change would have
been tested by you the same way if it had been applied kernel-wide.


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