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Date:	Tue, 11 Sep 2007 17:03:57 +0200
From:	Adrian Bunk <bunk@...nel.org>
To:	Bill Davidsen <davidsen@....com>
Cc:	Stephen Hemminger <shemminger@...ux-foundation.org>,
	Kyle Rose <krose@...se.org>,
	James Corey <ploversegg@...oo.com>,
	Rob Sims <lkml-z@...sims.com>, linux-kernel@...r.kernel.org,
	Jeff Garzik <jeff@...zik.org>, netdev@...r.kernel.org
Subject: Re: sk98lin for 2.6.23-rc1

On Tue, Sep 11, 2007 at 10:29:47AM -0400, Bill Davidsen wrote:
> Adrian Bunk wrote:
>> On Tue, Sep 11, 2007 at 10:05:26AM +0200, Stephen Hemminger wrote:
>>   
>>> There are several different problems in this thread:
>>> 1. The removal of old sk98lin driver caused some users to be forced to 
>>> use
>>>     skge. These users have uncovered issues with the dual port fiber 
>>> based versions
>>>     of the board.      Short term: The sk98lin driver should be restored 
>>> to previous state,        and the PCI table should be used to limit the 
>>> usage to only fiber systems.
>>>        If Adrian doesn't do it, I'll do it when I return from Germany.
>>> ...
>>>     
>>
>> No problem with this, but since it was Jeff's patch it should better be 
>> him who reverts it (and he's anyway one step nearer to Linus).
>>
>> But the underlying general problem still remains:
>>
>> How can we get people to test and report bugs with the new drivers before 
>> removing the old driver?
>>
>>   
> Sorry for a long answer, I'm trying to provide insight on two recent cases.
>
> Thinking back to several drivers, when e100 was new I tried it because I 
> had problems with eepro100 in the area of multiple cards, multiple cables 
> on a single card, and jumbo packets. For a while I used both, until e100 
> worked where I need it. So I initially tried it because it had features I 
> needed, and then dropped to older driver just to avoid having to decide.
>
> With sk98lin, the driver worked flawlessly with all (3-4) systems, so I had 
> no reason to try any other. When removing sk98lin was first proposed, I 
> tried skge, first measurements showed it was 5-8% slower, NOT what I want, 
> so I went back. For me there was no reliability issue, but I never tried it 
> in a system with more than on NIC on the driver. Would "it's a little 
> slower" be a valid bug report? Or would I have gotten "works fine for me" 
> from people not beating it over Gbit?
>...

If you get less throughput that is a regression, and it should be 
reported and fixed.

I doubt anybody would have told you otherwise.

Is this bug still present as of 2.6.23-rc6?

>> That's a question especially for the people who now had problems after 
>> sk98lin was removed.
>
> So if you want people to try a new driver, I think it really has to have 
> some benefits to the users, in terms of performance, reliability, or 
> features. "Cleaner design" doesn't motivate, and it does raise the question 
> of why the old driver wasn't just cleaned up. I've been doing software for 
> decades, I appreciate why, but users in general just want to use their 
> system. Which raises the question of why to delete drivers which work for 
> many or even most users?

As I already explained, there is a long term advantage for all users if 
there is only one driver in the kernel. Therefore all users should 
switch away from obsolete drivers to the replacement drivers, and the 
obsolete driver will be removed at some point in time. The only question 
is how to do it.

> Testing a new kernel is no longer a drop in a boot 
> operation if modprobe.conf must be edited to get the network up, and the 
> typical user isn't going to write that shell script to try one or the other 
> driver.

The typical user will let his distribution handle this.

And MODULE_ALIAS can also handle this.

> Honestly, new drivers which offer little benefit to most users are the 
> exception rather than the rule, so this may a corner case I would like to 
> see sk98lin back in the kernel, for a while I can build my own kernels and 
> patch it in, but until other drivers are drop-in, I probably won't change.

That a new driver offers benefits that cause most users to switch isn't 
realistic.

You mention e100 as an example - well, I'm using this driver in my 
computer, but I doubt anything would be worse for me if I'd use the 
obsolete eepro100 driver instead since I'm not using any of the fancy 
e100 features you mentioned as advantages.

There is a long term advantage for all users if there is only one driver 
in the kernel. Therefore all users should switch away from obsolete 
drivers to the replacement drivers, and the obsolete driver will be 
removed at some point in time. The only question is how to do it.

> Separate but related: why keep skge and sky2? Are we going through this 
> again in a year? Is the benefit worth the effort?
>...

skge and sky2 support distinct hardware.

cu
Adrian

-- 

       "Is there not promise of rain?" Ling Tan asked suddenly out
        of the darkness. There had been need of rain for many days.
       "Only a promise," Lao Er said.
                                       Pearl S. Buck - Dragon Seed

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