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SubjectRe: Old platforms: bring out your dead
On Tue, Jan 12, 2021 at 11:46 PM Linus Walleij <linus.walleij@linaro.org> wrote:
>
> On Tue, Jan 12, 2021 at 3:45 PM John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
> <glaubitz@physik.fu-berlin.de> wrote:
>
> > Yeah, I have the same impression that's the strong commercial interest pushes
> > hobbyist use of the Linux kernel a bit down. A lot of these changes feel like
> > they're motivated by corporate decisions.
> >
> > There has to be a healthy balance between hobbyist and commercial use. I understand
> > that from a commercial point of view, it doesn't make much sense to run Linux
> > on a 30-year-old computer. But it's a hobbyist project for many people and hacking
> > Linux stuff for these old machines has a very entertaining and educational factor.
>
> This is actually one of the most interesting things written in this discussion.
>
> I have both revamped and deleted subarchitectures in the ARM tree. We
> never deleted anyone's pet project *unless* they were clearly unwilling to
> work on it (such as simply testning new patches) and agreed that it will
> not go on.
>
> At multiple occasions I actually found it easier to fix stuff than
> delete it, both because it is a nicer thing to do and because it
> simply creates less social problems, often to the point that the time
> (man hours) spent trying to solve the resulting social problems from
> deleting a platform would be longer than the time spent actually acquiring
> the physical platform and fixing it.
>
> Corporate entities can be a bit deletionist (using Wikipedia terminology)
> and as in this thread there is always a strong inclusionist stance pushing
> back to that.

It's usually one of two things that happened before a platform gets
deleted for good:

* The platform port was (almost) exclusively done by one company
with a commercial interest in it, and the company shifts its priorities
for some reason (acquisition, bankruptcy, product cancellation,
accidentally laying off all competent developers, ...) that causes it to
stop working on it. Sometimes the previously paid maintainers
keep up their upstream position, but without someone pushing the
last missing bits into an official release, users are stuck on an old
BSP kernel.

* A platform port is done in the open and actually works for upstream
users, but over time the last active maintainers move on in their
lives. Complex platforms inevitably break when a treewide change
goes wrong, so we rely on users that are able to bisect and report
bugs when they happen. After a platform has been broken for
too long, even competent users may decide to just give up and
stay on their last working kernel. Some of these platforms eventually
recover when a new maintainer steps up or someone discovers they
depend on newer kernels for products, but after a few years it's
usually beyond repair.

Arnd

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