Why Clang

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Fri Jun 22 04:27:05 UTC 2012

On Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 10:40:11AM +0200, Michel Talon wrote:
> Le 21 juin 2012 à 03:52, kpneal at pobox.com a écrit :
> >
> > 
> > All of this may seem stupid to a reasonable person outside of law. I'll agree
> > that it probably does look stupid. But it is also the reality of the legal
> > systems we must live with today.
> I can only praise kpneal for this very well argumented post. However
> some remarks.  The whole argument revolves around FUD, fear,
> uncertainty and doubt. But there will never be any shortage of lawyers
> trying to spread FUD on any subject to please their clients, and if
> companies "bend over" instead of fighting FUD they will promptly be
> paralyzed.

It was actually a fairly sober assessment of legal conditions, especially
in light of the rather unreasonable expenses often attendant to legal
battles.  In any case, it pays to play things safe when your options are:

* Take the idiots on, head-on, over their copyleft licensing zeal, and
  see if you get sued.

* Play it safe by using a compiler built on a better architecture that
  provides better development features, more correct output, and other
  advantages, with a copyfree license instead of a copyleft license.

> Last time a company tried to use such tactic against Linux, it did not
> turn out a bright idea. Second, FreeBSD is not a commercial company,
> and while this argument may have a merit for commercial sponsors of
> FreeBSD, it has zero bearing on FreeBSD itself.

I disagree with the assessment by others that FreeBSD is in some way
effectively a subsidiary of its corporate users, but it does have
corporate users, as well as non-corporate users.  Just as it must
reasonably see to the needs of the individuals who use it, so must it
also reasonably see to the needs of those corporate users, especially
when some of those corporate users' employees are key developers for the
base system (to the significant benefit of the rest of us).  Thus, saying
that a particular set of conditions having an impact on commercial
sponsors of FreeBSD has "zero bearing on FreeBSD itself" is just . . .

> If FreeBSD appears as a subsidiary of some commercial company (say
> Juniper) i am not sure this will be good for its further development.
> This being said, i agree with you that the FreeBSD binaries will not
> see a big performance degradation through the use of clang, so, as long
> as gcc is in the ports to be used with performance critical stuff, it
> is no big deal. Anyways as a long time FreeBSD user i have seen clang
> presented as an experiment by two or three people, and then suddenly
> stuffed without any discussion in the base system, apparently for
> political reasons that i don't share (i mean this stupid obsession of
> "GPL free" system, which has replaced the previous focus on quality and
> performance).

How much were you around in the mailing lists and other relevant venues
for discussion of changes to the base system?  You are presumably aware
this list doesn't really count, being a general-questions list that is
not exactly the official place to discuss things like base system choices
of library and userland development (for instance), or even ports system
development.  It's possible all you saw of the discussion was the parts
that "escaped into the wild", as it were; the more in-depth discussion of
the matter surely happened elsewhere.  This might give you a mistaken
impression that there was not much discussion of the matter.

. . . and thanks for calling the concerns of everyone who wants to be
able to use FreeBSD as the basis of other projects without having to deal
with problematic licensing restrictions as "stupid" and "obsessed".
That's not very nice (or accurate).

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]

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