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[gNewSense-users] Re: KFV back end / Code Review Programs

From: Danny Clark
Subject: [gNewSense-users] Re: KFV back end / Code Review Programs
Date: Wed, 09 Jul 2008 17:02:19 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20080505)

Bake Timmons wrote:
> Danny Clark <address@hidden> writes:
>> (Q1) Is a version control program not used just because no one has had
>> time to implement it, or are there arguments against it?
> Lack of time has been my impression of the problem.  The wiki tables
> have been a quick and easy solution, but just a first step.  I agree
> with your comments and am eager to help adapt KFV Mode to a better
> back end.  I would be surprised if git were not the most efficient
> back end.

Git is efficient, but also a real pain in the ass to work with
(extremely nonobvious behavior - and this is coming to me from top
percentile programmers (former OLPC colleagues), not newbies), and it is
not (yet) well integrated with a bunch of other tools.

As I recall this is partly because Linus wanted git to be more of a core
library that others wrote front ends to, but I think he has since
changed course, and is trying to make git easier to use. I'm not sure
what the current state of that is, as I haven't touched git in >6 months.

> Moreover, I hope that this new back end could be adapted for *all*
> freedom verification work, including what gNewSense started to do for
> packages (PFV).  One difference between KFV and PFV is that PFV
> typically involved looking not at a file of source code but at a file
> of license text that covered a whole package.

Or even a step beyond that, to freedom verification work even for
non-gNS projects, and then have the gNS-specific stuff be separated out
(there really shouldn't be that much packaging code that's separate from
the pristine sources).

This seems like it's abstractable to "we need to maintain a database of
information about a set of files that changes over time, and have nice
front ends to maintaining that information". I have to think that there
are - or really should be - nice Free Software products / sites covering
that problem space. Fossology - - was recently
pointed out to me, but I haven't had a chance to look at it in depth yet.

I have a few related memos circulating around the FSF offices about
this, so soon I should have rms etc. opinions.

Also re: PFV, I just had a talk with Deb (IRC freedeb), maintainer of, and it turns out that there are plenty of cases where
you need to look at every file with packages as well, or at least use
some simple (grep/keyword) heuristics to scan through the files. She has
some nice (but internally-focussed) write-ups on how she does that that
may make it to the resources section of the FSF website in the fullness
of time.

>> (Q2) Addition of an established web-based code review tool to the
>> options people have when doing KFV work (in addition to kfv.el and
>> manually editing the wiki.)
> I am eager to learn how web-based tools might help people.  In any
> case, I will continue to be concerned with making the most productive
> and transparent interface for freedom verification work.

I think they make up for in number of people willing to use them what
they lack in efficiency, and can also serve as a "gateway drug" to more
efficient interfaces like kfv.el or whatever else people come up with.

Plus, you just know you want to see the freedom-verification version of !

Danny Clark # Sys Admin, Free Software Foundation
# #

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