Development model/versioning stuff: Interesting essay on why decentralised versioning is a bad idea

Mike McCormack mike at
Fri Aug 13 05:39:15 CDT 2004

Mike Hearn wrote:

> What are peoples thoughts on this? It's not (despite appearances) an 
> argument against BitKeeper due to licensing concerns, but rather a short 
>  paper on why the author believes the "pyramid" patch/development system 
> is a bad idea.

 From the article:

"For Linux, the consequences of these limitations have been slow and
unpredictable release schedules, poor stability of release branches,
and a lack of important standards (for instance, no consistent kernel
module ABI or even API within a release branch)."

I think that the above is incorrect...  IMO:

* mainline linux kernels have not been unstable. Kernels released by 
distros, which are presumably done with multiple committers are far more 
unstable than that released by Linus.

* the kernel->user space ABI is extremely stable.  The internal kernel 
ABI is not stable, because supporting 3rd drivers is not a goal of Linux.

The release schedule of the kernel is slightly irregular, but I don't 
think that it's holding back development.

The advantage of having a single maintainer is that it reduces the level 
of politics in the project.  We follow Alexandre's goals, which I think 
are pretty clear and consistent.  Multiple maintainers would have 
multiple goals, and thus create conflict.  There's always the option to 
fork the project if you think that you have a better way of doing 
things, but nobody has successfully done that so far.

The current development model for Wine is achieving good results.  I 
don't think there's any need to mess with it.  CVS has it's problems 
(mostly for maintainers), but there's no better tool at the moment.


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