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Torvalds Weighs In on BitKeeper Announcement

Apr 06, 2005, 16:45 (29 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Linus Torvalds)

From the LKML:

as a number of people are already aware (and in some cases have been aware over the last several weeks), we've been trying to work out a conflict over BK usage over the last month or two (and it feels like longer ;). That hasn't been working out, and as a result, the kernel team is looking at alternatives.

[ And apparently this just hit slashdot too, so by now everybody knows ]

It's not like my choice of BK has been entirely conflict-free ("No, really? Do tell! Oh, you mean the gigabytes upon gigabytes of flames we had?"), so in some sense this was inevitable, but I sure had hoped that it would have happened only once there was a reasonable open-source alternative. As it is, we'll have to scramble for a while.

Btw, don't blame BitMover, even if that's probably going to be a very common reaction. Larry in particular really did try to make things work out, but it got to the point where I decided that I don't want to be in the position of trying to hold two pieces together that would need as much glue as it seemed to require.

We've been using BK for three years, and in fact, the biggest problem right now is that a number of people have gotten very very picky about their tools after having used the best. Me included, but in fact the people that got helped most by BitKeeper usage were often the people around me who had a much easier time merging with my tree and sending their trees to me.

Of course, there's also probably a ton of people who just used BK as a nicer (and much faster) "anonymous CVS" client. We'll get that sorted out, but the immediate problem is that I'm spending most my time trying to see what the best way to co-operate is.

NOTE! BitKeeper isn't going away per se. Right now, the only real thing that has happened is that I've decided to not use BK mainly because I need to figure out the alternatives, and rather than continuing "things as normal", I decided to bite the bullet and just see what life without BK looks like. So far it's a gray and bleak world ;)

So don't take this to mean anything more than it is. I'm going to be effectively off-line for a week (think of it as a normal "Linus went on a vacation" event) and I'm just asking that people who continue to maintain BK trees at least try to also make sure that they can send me the result as (individual) patches, since I'll eventually have to merge some other way.

That "individual patches" is one of the keywords, btw. One thing that BK has been extremely good at, and that a lot of people have come to like even when they didn't use BK, is how we've been maintaining a much finer- granularity view of changes. That isn't going to go away.

In fact, one impact BK ha shad is to very fundamentally make us (and me in particular) change how we do things. That ranges from the fine-grained changeset tracking to just how I ended up trusting submaintainers with much bigger things, and not having to work on a patch-by-patch basis any more. So the three years with BK are definitely not wasted: I'm convinced it caused us to do things in better ways, and one of the things I'm looking at is to make sure that those things continue to work.

So I just wanted to say that I'm personally very happy with BK, and with Larry. It didn't work out, but it sure as hell made a big difference to kernel development. And we'll work out the temporary problem of having to figure out a set of tools to allow us to continue to do the things that BK allowed us to do.

Let the flames begin.


PS. Don't bother telling me about subversion. If you must, start reading up on "monotone." That seems to be the most viable alternative, but don't pester the developers so much that they don't get any work done. They are already aware of my problems ;)

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