[linux-elitists] My first look at BitKeeper. (fwd)

Martin Pool mbp@sourcefrog.net
Sat Mar 15 13:54:27 PST 2003

On 14 Mar 2003, Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Jonathan Corbet (corbet-elite@lwn.net):

> My theory is that the flamewars owe in part to _information friction_:
> People suddenly discover unattractive aspects of the product that either
> are new (e.g., the no-compete clause) or were little known (e.g., steep
> pricing levels for the commercial version, forced upgrading to new
> versions with more-restrictive licence terms in the gratis version) and
> are indignant about being taken unawares.  So, I try to fix that.  

Nice work.  I appreciate the non-flaming way you describe tightening
of the licence.

> BitKeeper

Larry *could* change the terms of use for his server so that people
are only allowed to connect from his client, rendering these tools
illegal for people who want to use them to get the kernel source.  I'm
not saying that he will.

> Clearcase

I recently tried to help upgrade a 2.4.9 machine at a big company to
address a kernel bug that was occassionally causing builds to freeze
up.  It turns out that because the ClearCase module uses interfaces
that are not considered public by the kernel developers, it just won't
work on more recent kernels.

I am not very impressed that the most recent kernel they support is
about 18 months old.

One big "feature" this gives you is that files can transparently
change without any need for an explicit "update" command.  But unless
used carefully, this is actually an antifeature.  We recently had a
bad build probably because somebody changed in a file while the build
was underway.  I'm sure it could be used more effectively and there
are advantages.  At least in theory, the database holds a sufficient
audit trail to let you work out exactly what source files where used
in a particular build.

To be fair, you can also use "snapshot views", which are static
checkouts more or less like CVS: you run an explicit update command to
get new files.  According to our ClearCase administrator, if you've
set up a build system to use one model then it's hard to convert it to
the other one, so few people use them.

> Subversion

Subversion can now run over ssh in the same way CVS does, as an
alternative to WebDAV.  There is no long-lived server, you don't need
to install apache2, and you don't need to open extra ports.  This was
a big barrier for adoption in earlier releases.  It might be worth


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