diff - GNU og BSD ?

Eirik Nygaard eirikn at kerneled.com
Wed Feb 18 11:31:27 PST 2004

On Wed, Feb 18, 2004 at 08:08:59PM +0100, Joerg Sonnenberger wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 18, 2004 at 12:14:05PM -0600, Jeremy Messenger wrote:
> > Well, it's necessarily when you are taking it away from us. The GNU
> > diff has been part of base system for the very long time and you decide to
> > replace to BSD diff that has lesser feature, slower and etc. It hurts. My
> > belief, you have to make sure the BSD diff is better than GNU diff for the
> > replacement rather than worry about the GPL license since there are a lot
> > of other GPL tools in the base system where you can't replace them yet
> > (probably more like never).
> > 
> > Anyway, Matt has answered the rest and I agree with him about I see no
> > problem using GNU for utilities. I don't understand why people are worry
> > about it where it doesn't get in our way.
> Well, since we have maintain that stuff, there is a reason to worry about it.
> I initially pointed Eirik to the BSD diff since it should be evaluated.
> In the special case of diff it boils down to the following points:
> a) the necessary feature set for POSIX correctness
> b) the necessary features used by our own system (e.g. mergemaster)
> c) the must-have additions (unified diffs!)
> d) speed.

These are the critical factors, I think that the license should only be
the deciding factor IF all those points are more or less equal in the two
versions, which at this time is not the case it seems(this is second hand
information on my part, will do some testing myself this weekend.)

> a und c are IMO fully satisfied. For b) the lack of sdiff is currently
> problematic. Issue d is something which can be fixed. At least buggs
> and asmodai have shown some interest to work on it.

Both b and d is possible to fix, I don't know how much work it would take
to add sdiff to the OpenBSD version, but it should not be impossible.

> Just to add one more point why this discussion is necessary. DF and
> FreeBSD are currently shipping with GNU tar. GNU tar is not very well
> maintained, since even the FSF maintainer believe it is messy. We already
> have pax in the tree, which does have a tar wrapper, but isn't 100%
> compatible with GNU's pre-POSIX tar files nor the extended options.
> Having said that, GNU tar doesn't create valid POSIX tar archives, e.g.
> with path names longer than 100 characters. Pax does, so does star. Is
> this reason enough to think about extending pax's tar wrapper and remove
> GNU tar from base? We should always keep in mind, that there is absolutly
> nothing to prevent installing a GNU tar/diffutils/patch/whatever port
> to satisfy the requirements of third party software. There is even an
> example in ports, which does exactly this (devel/tla depends on gpatch).

There has been work in FreeBSD to provide a BSDL tar replacement.
http://people.freebsd.org/~kientzle/libarchive/ which we could look into.
I have compiled and tested it on DFly and it seems to work, as for speed I
am not sure.

Eirik Nygaard
eirikn at xxxxxxxxxxxx    Never let a computer know you're in a hurry.
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