Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Stability vs Churn Culture

I’m working on rewriting memcache-dynamo in Go.  Why?  What was wrong with Python?

The problem is that the development community has diverged from my goals.  I’m looking for a language that’s stable, since this isn’t the company’s primary language.  (memcache-dynamo is utility code.) I want to write the code and then forget about it, more or less.  Python has made that impossible.

A 1-year release cycle with “deprecated for 1 cycle before removal” as the policy means it’s possible for users on Ubuntu LTS to end up in a situation where their previous LTS, 2 versions behind, doesn’t provide an alternative for something that’s been removed in the next LTS / current Python.

But looking closer to home, it’s a trend that’s sweeping the industry as a whole, and fracturing communities in its wake.  Perl wants to do the same thing, if “Perl 7” ever lands.

Also, PHP 5.6 has been unsupported for two years, yet there are still code bases out there that support PHP 5, and people are (presumably) still running 5.6 in production.  With Enterprise Linux distributions, we will see this continue for years; RHEL 7 shipped PHP 5.4, with support through June 2024.

There’s a separate group of people that are moving ahead with the yearly updates.  PHPUnit for example; every year, a new major version comes out, dropping support for the now-unsupported PHP versions, and whatever PHPUnit functionality has been arbitrarily renamed in the meantime.  The people writing for 5.x are still using PHPUnit 4 or 5, which don’t support 8.0; it’s not until PHPUnit 8.5.12 that installation on PHP 8 is allowed, and that still doesn’t support PHP 7.0 or 7.1.

This is creating two ecosystems, and it’s putting pressure on the projects that value stability to stop doing that.  People will make a pull request, and write, “but actually, can you drop php 5 support? i had to work extra because of that.”

The instability of Linux libraries, from glibc on up, made building for Linux excessively complex, and AFAICT few people bother.  Go decided to skip glibc by default when building binaries, apparently because that was the easier path?

Now everyone thinks we should repeat that mistake in most of our other languages.

No comments: