Policy for removing working code

Kevin Oberman oberman at es.net
Thu Sep 9 17:32:32 UTC 2010

> Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2010 12:33:57 +0300
> From: Andriy Gapon <avg at icyb.net.ua>
> Sender: owner-freebsd-stable at freebsd.org
> on 09/09/2010 11:22 perryh at pluto.rain.com said the following:
> > Good, perhaps even "necessary", but is it "sufficient"?  Those
> > following a -STABLE branch are expected to read stable@, but
> > what about those who are following a security branch?
> People, who care, are expected to read current@ and stable@ even if
> they use only releases and security branches.  At the very least, to
> see what's cooking up for them and what to expect.
> P.S. I am surprised that this thread isn't over yet and is being kept
> alive by people who do not seem to use the feature in question or
> offer any work on it.  While people, who really need it, have already
> found a way forward for themselves.
> P.P.S. Please, please, let it go now.  Watch current@, watch stable@
> and speak up next time such an announcement is made.  Do it on time,
> don't wait until a few years later :-)

The point is that people running release code and release+security are
NOT expected to be reading either stable or current. They should be
reading the release notes, but the dropping of ISDN support was only
mentioned in the 7.0 release notes and it stated:
"ISDN4BSD and netatm have been temporarily disconnected from the
build. These modules all require the Giant kernel lock for their
operation; disconnecting them allows the removal of the NET_NEEDS_GIANT
compatability (sic) shim. It is planned to convert these modules to
fine-grained kernel locking and re-connect them for FreeBSD

Even if you read this, (ignoring the spelling error) you would not
expect them to be gone in 7.3 or 8.1. 

I must say that this was very poorly documented for the "typical" user
who happens to need ISDN. Yes, the code needed removal, but when a major
capability is removed, it really needs to be better noted. Since the 7.0
release notes said that ISDN4BSD would be back in 7.1, the 7.1 notes
should have mentioned that it was not and might not be back.

I also think that, once the decision to remove all devices that required
GIANT and most of the dust had settled (i.e. jhb and others had
converted most of the drivers to not use GIANT) and the plea went out
for people to test/patch the remaining devices, it would have been
appropriate to send a message to that effect to announce.

Let's face it, the removal of GIANT from the network stack was a major
change and it was likely to impact users of the sub-systems removed. If
they did the "usual" and skipped the ".0" release, they never installed
7.0 and probably did not read the release notes. It was never mentioned
in the announcements, either.

While the removal was needed, it really needed to be better publicized.
ISDN is still in use. We support it (not with FreeBSD) and, if it fails,
the mail comes pouring in, usually from outside of the US and the often
from places where other forms of broadband Internet are not readily
available or from those using appliances that use ISDN for network

This is a volunteer effort. When we screw up, and we do, we should say
"sorry" and try not to do it again, not spend time sending responses
that the users are at fault. Leave that to the commercial operations who
do it regularly. Personally, I think we screwed up.
R. Kevin Oberman, Network Engineer
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)
Ernest O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)
E-mail: oberman at es.net			Phone: +1 510 486-8634
Key fingerprint:059B 2DDF 031C 9BA3 14A4  EADA 927D EBB3 987B 3751

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