CODE ROT vs TERMITES
All maintenance involves dealing with rot. In the real world, environmental
factors gradually wear away existing structures and you have to tear out a
wall and rebuild it. Sun, wind, and rain weakened the old wall so it no longer
could function as intended.
Software undergoes the same change of environment. For example, Axiom's
X11 interface still works but is dying of code rot. It needs to be replaced by
a brower-based front end. This is general code rot.
On the other hand, there are active environmental threats, such as termites.
They attack perfectly serviceable structures and cause destruction rather than rot.
In software, there is a class of developer I call a TERMITE. These people think
that it is ok to break code that has run for many years. Axiom has compiled
and run fine since the 1980s. ADB, used to develop Android apps, has worked
fine for the last 10 years. Now code that used to compile and run no longer does.
Why? Because they miss the golden rule... DO NOT REGRESS.
TERMITES change code because they feel it is "right" and to hell with people
who have running code.
This is why Axiom has a regression test suite. DO NOT REGRESS.
|From||Linus Torvalds <>|
|Date||Fri, 3 Aug 2018 09:37:35 -0700|
|Subject||Re: LVM snapshot broke between 4.14 and 4.1|
[ Dammit. I haven't had to shout and curse at people for a while, but
this is ABSOLUTELY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE UNIVERSE WHEN IT
COMES TO SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT ]
On Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 6:31 AM Zdenek Kabelac <address@hidden> wrote:
> IMHO (as the author of fixing lvm2 patch) user should not be upgrading kernels
> and keep running older lvm2 user-land tool (and there are very good reasons
> for this).
Yeah, HELL NO!
Guess what? You're wrong. YOU ARE MISSING THE #1 KERNEL RULE.
We do not regress, and we do not regress exactly because your are 100% wrong.
And the reason you state for your opinion is in fact exactly *WHY* you
Your "good reasons" are pure and utter garbage.
The whole point of "we do not regress" is so that people can upgrade
the kernel and never have to worry about it.
> Kernel had a bug which has been fixed
That is *ENTIRELY* immaterial.
Guys, whether something was buggy or not DOES NOT MATTER.
Bugs happen. That's a fact of life. Arguing that "we had to break
something because we were fixing a bug" is completely insane. We fix
tens of bugs every single day, thinking that "fixing a bug" means that
we can break something is simply NOT TRUE.
So bugs simply aren't even relevant to the discussion. They happen,
they get found, they get fixed, and it has nothing to do with "we
Because the only thing that matters IS THE USER.
How hard is that to understand?
Anybody who uses "but it was buggy" as an argument is entirely missing
the point. As far as the USER was concerned, it wasn't buggy - it
worked for him/her.
Maybe it worked *because* the user had taken the bug into account,
maybe it worked because the user didn't notice - again, it doesn't
matter. It worked for the user.
Breaking a user workflow for a "bug" is absolutely the WORST reason
for breakage you can imagine.
It's basically saying "I took something that worked, and I broke it,
but now it's better". Do you not see how f*cking insane that statement
And without users, your program is not a program, it's a pointless
piece of code that you might as well throw away.
Seriously. This is *why* the #1 rule for kernel development is "we
don't break users". Because "I fixed a bug" is absolutely NOT AN
ARGUMENT if that bug fix broke a user setup. You actually introduced a
MUCH BIGGER bug by "fixing" something that the user clearly didn't
even care about.
And dammit, we upgrade the kernel ALL THE TIME without upgrading any
other programs at all. It is absolutely required, because flag-days
and dependencies are horribly bad.
And it is also required simply because I as a kernel developer do not
upgrade random other tools that I don't even care about as I develop
the kernel, and I want any of my users to feel safe doing the same
So no. Your rule is COMPLETELY wrong. If you cannot upgrade a kernel
without upgrading some other random binary, then we have a problem.