[devel] Fwd: lj_udrepper: Do you still think the LSB has some value?
Вт Сен 20 02:24:46 MSD 2005
----- Forwarded message from rss2mail2 на solemn -----
From: rss2mail2 на solemn
Subject: lj_udrepper: Do you still think the LSB has some value?
Do you still think the LSB has some value? at 17-09-2005 21:33:58
There are still people out there who think that the LSB has any value.
This just means they buy into the advertisement of the people who have
monetary benefits from the existence of the "specification", they
don't do any research, and they generally don't understand ABI issues.
Just look at the recent LSBv3 "certification" process. Our management
got pressured by certain parties into declaring that once again we go
through the process. The v3 spec was extended significantly, some new
tests were added. And of course, the tests are run against the current
code base and using the machines people nowadays use. What is the
result of all this: many many reported bugs.
This is nothing new, it has been the case for every test run after an
update of the test suite. And the analysis of the failures is also
always the same: the bugs are not in the tested code, they are in the
test suite. There might be occasionally a problem in the code, I think
I've seen one or two of these, but it's safe to say 90+% of the
reported bugs are actually problems in the test suite. Look at the LSB
bug database and all the reported problems if you doubt that.
Now, considering this, there are some interesting observations to be
The tests certainly at some point worked. I don't doubt that. But
the kind of errors showed that the author not only doesn't really
understand the standards, but also cannot really program and
doesn't understand hardware. This applies also to the code which
is written by the presumed "professionals" paid by the OpenGroup
to write tests. Want an example?
 Look at this. This is no isolated incident, I've found this
kind of problems on many occasions.
Some distributions still somehow manage to pass the test suits of
a new version of the spec. And all this without the people
reporting any problems and requesting waiving the test. When we
analyze the code and see that it cannot work we file bugs and wait
of the test to be waived. If this is not what others do, how can
they pass the tests? I hope nobody actually cheats, although I'm
not completely dismissing this. This leaves one solution: create a
special LSB environment in which the test succeeds. This is
possible since the geniuses who came up with the whole idea think
that an own dynamic linker is OK; the latter can then use
different DSOs which effectively implements a completely separated
environment. This environment then can be modified to accommodate
the wrong tests.
But what does this mean for the user of LSB who is falling victim
to the illusion of LSB as a stable environment? It means that
these programs have to work within an environment which a) is
different from the standard runtime environment and b) is wrong.
Since the tests are wrong the semantics is not required (after the
waiver) from other LSB-compliant implementations and therefore the
adjusted LSB environment differs from those environments which
didn't change and rely on the waiver. The result of all this is
that you can have a program which is certified for LSBv3 which
doesn't run on all LSBv3 certified systems, depending on whether
the LSB environment worked around the broken test or not. The only
way to ensure that this specific kind of problem never happens is
to invalidate every certified distribution once a new waiver is
Another nice things we came across during the LSBv3 testing are
numerous timing problems. The bug referenced above is also
depending on timing, which is why it hasn't been discovered
earlier (the test code is pretty old). When the problem was
reported the answer we got from the LSB working group was along
the lines "use a slow uni-processor machine, it is known to work
there". And what do you know, look at the  filing for
compliance from a certain other distribution. Pay attention to the
hardware specification. As a colleague of mine correctly said:
I'm so glad we worry ourselves and put resources into
the industry standard for doorstops.
What is the value of such a certification? What assurance does
this give you? Is "don't use fast SMP machines" an acceptable
answer in any universe, _especially_ when it comes to thread
I think it's time to stop kidding ourselves. It is not possible to
achieve the goal of 100% binary compatibility except when the same
binaries are used everywhere. There are test suite bugs (worked around
or not-yet-discovered), there are whole in the test suite as far as
specified behavior is concerned (especially when it comes to
implementation-defined behavior, since this is nothing the
OpenGroup-provided test suites can test for), and there is the huge
source of problems called unspecified behavior. Nothing is guaranteed
when interfaces are used in a way which is defined as unspecified. So
no test of the _implementation_ can ever help. The applications are
the issue and here testing is almost entirely lacking. Yes, there is
an attempt by the LSB to cover this. But it is completely inadequate
as is and who knows anybody who went through the process or even is
willing to, considering the extra amount of work this would mean?
Jim Zemlin and Art Tyde actually came for a visit to talk about these
issues not too long ago. They were asking for more time as they
reorganize the LSB (some personnel affects have been visible,
already). But I think all this is futile, regardless of how much time
is sunk into this, there will always be holes big enough to drive a
truck through. And who is writing the tests? Remember, the guy who
wrote the thread test suite for the OpenGroup is supposed to be an
expert. Look at the code!
My advise: but the losses. Remove any claim that the LSB will ensure
any additional level of assurance for developers. To some extend, I
think, the claims a scaled back meanwhile, if I understood Art
correctly. It might be useful to still provide the test suites but
given their quality, this is questionable at best, too. I'd rather see
new tests to be written, maybe as an extension of the  POSIX test
suite Intel started. After they added the 100+ reports I sent and
those others sent the test suite is a somewhat good reflection of who
a _Linux_ implementation should behave (important: I wrote "Linux" and
Until the LSB loses the monetary backing this is unlikely to happen,
though. The main reason: people who deal with standards
professionally. They of course have everything to lose. These are the
same people who brought you useless crap like the Linux ISO spec
(based on some old LSB version). These people are paid to participate
in calls, meetings, get there travels to exotic places financed. Did
you look at the list of meeting places for ISO meetings? I hope the
penny squeezers in the companies financing these standardization
groups (not only the LSB, there are many more) realize the waste of
money most of these efforts are and introduce more control. Yes,
something like the Austin Group working group is useful, this is an _API_
standard (as opposed to _ABI_ in case of LSB) which makes it much more
realistic and useful. But ISO Linux? Shudder...
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