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Re: Limits to what can be done without source



Les Mikesell wrote:
On Wed, 2006-05-17 at 02:31, Andy Green wrote:

Consider for a moment that you are Mike Harris and this complaint lands on your monitor. Say you want to help. What exactly is your next move? Look at the ATI source to see what has gone wrong? There isn't any, ATI refuse to give it out.

Did it work in a previous fedora release? Does it work with
other distributions?  In other words, did you change the
interface in a way responsible for the breakage?

ABI churn is not the only problem with binary blobs. Point in case I saw on this list in the last couple of days, Adobe Acrobat blew chunks on a double free. This is not an ABI problem but a hidden bug in the binary blob.

Should you, as valuable resource, then bust out a debugger and spend miserable weeks trawling through disassemblies to try to understand the origin of the problem, likely caused by an ATI programmer that is sitting on the source that could help you solve it in hours rather than weeks? What exactly can you do to help other than shrug your shoulders and tell you to complain at the guys sitting on the sources?

Provide a documented and unchanging interface so if something works
today it will still work next week.

That does not follow for the same reason... a stable ABI would be nice but that's not what one can expect with Linux. It won't guarantee binary blobs becoming paragons of coding virtue and to provide immortal functionality either.

I have to maintain a chunk of kernelside code and tracking the whiplash on the kernel can be a PITA, so your point is understood. But it's not like the only issue with opaque binaries is that the ABI keeps changing.

-Andy

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