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

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Re: KFV back end / Code Review Programs
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 07:07:48 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080420)

Danny Clark wrote:
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.

If we're going to use version control, it might be worth looking at Bazaar. If we're going to use similar tools as Ubuntu, we might as well use the same ones. It makes cooperation between the two distros easier (and Mark and Jono have expressed even more interest in that since the downfall of Gobuntu) and make it easier for Ubuntu contributors to work on gNewSense.

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.

I don't really know how FOSSology works or what it does exactly, but it sounds like something that we can use. Too bad their live demo is not up.

(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 !

I'm not a huge fan of web-based stuff myself (slow and too much reliance on Javascript these days), but it would certainly lower the barrier for KFV work which is a huge plus. I've never used such review software before, but it looks very interesting and I would like to get some experience with them. Maybe it's even something I could use at work.

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