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Re: backward compatability of tools

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: backward compatability of tools
Date: 18 Feb 2003 11:23:05 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.0808 (Gnus v5.8.8) Emacs/20.3

"Dr. David Kirkby" <address@hidden> writes:

> although you are saying it is still an operating system supported by
> Sun

"Support" is a relative term.  If you find a new bug in SunOS 4.1.4,
Sun will not fix it for you, even if you have purchased a standard
software maintenance contract from Sun.  I don't call that "support",
even if Sun does.

By my definition, Sun doesn't "support" SunOS 4.1.4 for its paying
customers, and hasn't for more than two years.  This is a pretty good
indication that the platform is dead.

> There may *real bugs* that become evident under SunOs 4.1.4,

Possibly; but you haven't reported any in this thread.  Instead,
you've reported only bugs in SunOS 4.1.4 itself.  This suggests that
porting to SunOS 4.1.4 is not a particularly efficient way to discover
real bugs.

> once developers of development tools such as autoconf and automake
> break backward compatibility, it screws it up for ALL developers,

Yes.  That is why the decision to drop support for SunOS 4.x was not
made lightly.  It was made only because there are so few real users of
SunOS 4.x -- for _any_ new application -- that it was not worth
anybody's time to continue to work around the bugs in SunOS 4.x.  As
far as I know, nobody was using SunOS 4.x for new GNU applications,
and this was true well before support for SunOS 4.x was dropped from
Autoconf last year.

We did not purposely shut off SunOS 4.x.  Instead, we wrote new code,
that is portable according to POSIX 1003.2-1992 (a 10-year-old
standard), which SunOS 4.x happens to break on, and for which there is
no simple workaround.  If you think there is a real need to support
SunOS 4.x, are willing to actively maintain support for it, and can do
so in such a way that doesn't adversely impact ongoing development,
then we'd love to use your work to continue to maintain those museum

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