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Re: backward compatability of tools

From: Dr. David Kirkby
Subject: Re: backward compatability of tools
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 23:54:04 +0000

Paul Eggert wrote:

> "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.

The only thing I would say to that is that when Sun stops supporting
hardware or software to professional users, it does not mean hobbyists
don't continue using that hardware/software. That said, I'm aware even
hobbyists use later releases of Solaris. We still use DOS at work to
support a few legacy applications! 

It was someone else (a developer of a Linux for SPARC distribution),
who suggested SunOs 4.1.4  a possibly useful platform by saying "You
might also like to try SunOS 4.1.4 as quite a few old Sparcs use

How true that comment is I don't know. I suspect it may be true that a
number of old sparcs run it to support legacy applications, but like
you I doubt anyone is using it to develop new ones. 

I must admit I would think someone a bit mad to start using my
software on such old hardware. 
> > 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. 

I'll take your word for that. I will try to find a patch (if one is
publicly available) for /bin/sh, if that is what is broken in SunOs
4.1.4. I don't want to use bash, as that seems to have its own
extensions which rather defeats the object of the exercise. 

> This suggests that
> porting to SunOS 4.1.4 is not a particularly efficient way to discover
> real bugs.

I don't think it's reasonable to make that statement, when the
application has not been ported. If it takes a lot of effort to port
it (which I don't think it will), then I could see that point being
valid. But if the porting effort is minimal, then it would have been
worthwhile. If no bugs are not found then I'm happy. If bugs are found
I will fix them and think the effort particularly worthwhile. 

> 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. 

Okay, if there's no simple workaround, I can see the point. 

Dr. David Kirkby,
Senior Research Fellow,
Department of Medical Physics,
University College London,
11-20 Capper St, London, WC1E 6JA.
Tel: 020 7679 6408 Fax: 020 7679 6269
Internal telephone: ext 46408
e-mail address@hidden

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