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Interview with Tom Lord of Arch Revision System

michael posted about 10 years ago | from the call-him-lord dept.

Programming 334

comforteagle writes "Every revision control system has its supporters and detractors, but none is as polar as Arch. Either you hate it or think it is the best thing in revision control ever. Built more around what our beloved kernel hackers use (BK), Arch is definitely a departure from CVS and Subversion. I've interviewed Tom Lord, Arch's daddy, about the application, and he has some -ahem- interesting answers and opinions."

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I'm left out... (5, Funny)

Three Headed Man (765841) | about 10 years ago | (#10344099)

"Every revision control system has its supporters and detractors, but none is as polar as Arch. Either you hate it or think it is the best thing in revision control ever."

They forget those of us who have never heard of it before.

Re:I'm left out... (4, Interesting)

Curtman (556920) | about 10 years ago | (#10344135)

They forget those of us who have never heard of it before.

And those of us who have heard of it, but have no idea if its a good thing or not.

I noticed freedesktop.org has started using it to some degree [freedesktop.org] . But like I say, I have no idea if thats a good thing. It is slightly inconvenient in that I have to go read yet some more docs to use it. :(

Re:I'm left out... (1)

bfields (66644) | about 10 years ago | (#10344422)

I noticed freedesktop.org has started using it to some degree.

That's interesting, because I remember them saying at OLS that they were considering it, but wanted to audit the code and the design a bit first. Based on your comment, I assume they've actually done the audit and decided they were happy with it--does anyone have a pointer to the results? I'm sure I'd be not alone in being interested.

--Bruce Fields

Re:I'm left out... (4, Funny)

themassiah (80330) | about 10 years ago | (#10344172)

Since when has being completely uninformed stopped any Slashdot readers from making informed opinions and spreading them around?

You must be new here.

Re:I'm left out... (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 10 years ago | (#10344194)


He's got a much higher UID than you but still... I'll wager 200 Quatloos on the newcomer! duu du DAA DAA DAA DAA DAA daa da daaa....

Re:I'm left out... (4, Insightful)

sketerpot (454020) | about 10 years ago | (#10344700)

It stops many, but you don't see them. In other words, you're mistakenly drawing conclusions from a skewed sample.

Shouldn't headline read (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344100)

Interview with Tom, Lord of Arch Revision System

Re:Shouldn't headline read (4, Funny)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | about 10 years ago | (#10344232)

Should someone be welcoming our new ArchLord?

Re:Shouldn't headline read (0)

deego (587575) | about 10 years ago | (#10344363)

> Should someone be welcoming our new ArchLord?

by "Lord," "arch" is CVS's "arch"rival, let's see if it causes a "subversion"...

Weird (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344103)

Weird

gmail invites (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344116)

DON'T CLICK THOSE LINKS!!!! (1)

lakcaj (811907) | about 10 years ago | (#10344250)

I don't know how the fuck those links do that, but how the hell do I disable the ability of those sites to take over my browser like that?

Mozilla Firefox on Debian Linux

Re:DON'T CLICK THOSE LINKS!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344332)

turn off javascript.

Re:DON'T CLICK THOSE LINKS!!!! (0, Offtopic)

kundor (757951) | about 10 years ago | (#10344337)

Wow, that's crazy. I must admit I'm impressed.

Turning off Java and Javascript renders the links harmless.

Re:DON'T CLICK THOSE LINKS!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344366)

There is an article on how to secure your web browser against trojans, bad scripts, and hijacks over at Tech News Live [technewslive.info] .

OT: Re:DON'T CLICK THOSE LINKS!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344692)

I don't know how the fuck those links do that, but how the hell do I disable the ability of those sites to take over my browser like that?

Look at the address of the link: www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=3&q=http://nyud.info
Then try `whois nyud.info`. All will become clear.

How to download the source: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344145)

# cd /usr/src
# export CVSROOT=:pserver:anoncvs@cvs.gnuarch.org:/usr/cvsr oot
# cvs login - the password is anoncvs.
# cvs checkout arch

Where are the screenshots? (-1, Troll)

N8F8 (4562) | about 10 years ago | (#10344150)

Seriously, the last thing I want is another commandline POS where I have to remerber a ton of commands and switches. Does it integrate with the OS?

Re:Where are the screenshots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344210)

Does it integrate with the OS?

Which OS?

Re:Where are the screenshots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344216)

>Seriously, the last thing I want is another commandline POS where I have to remerber a ton of commands and switches.
Lord Vader, your revision control system is ready [microsoft.com]

> Does it integrate with the OS?

Mr Gates, how did you get such a low uid on Slashdot?

Re:Where are the screenshots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344279)

Why would you want it to integrate with the OS? I can see integrating into an IDE but not into an OS.

Re:Where are the screenshots? (4, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | about 10 years ago | (#10344349)

No. The 'commandline POS' is very necessary - it's what runs underneath. I have no experience of Arch, but I do use Subversion - and if you want to use the GUI (say, on Windows) you use something like TortoiseSVN which integrates with Windows Explorer. However, advanced users may want to script some of their Subversion commands, or possibly just find it faster to use the command line than a GUI. Personally, I find Subversion pretty easy to use on the command line so I don't bother with a GUI - it gets in the way. I'm using Mac OSX right now - the epitome of a nice GUI, and whilst I use OSX's superb GUI for many things when it comes to my version control tools, I forgo the pretty GUI and just open a Terminal.

The main problemw ith a GUI is that you can't script them (or not trivially anyway). A development tool (which is largely what version control is) that cannot be scripted is useless. The GUI is not the be-all-and-end-all. This is what frustrates me so much about Windows on the server (and why it's not a very good server OS) - it's because many parts of Windows are totally unscriptable out of the box. Don't do this to our version control software too.

The GUI should be separate from the 'business logic' of any tool in any case - therefore there's absolutely nothing wrong with a GUI that drives command line tools underneath, or perhaps provides another interface by linking to a library which provides the heavy lifting parts of the code.

Re:Where are the screenshots? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 10 years ago | (#10344731)

Just a minor correction:

The main problemw ith a GUI is that you can't script them (or not trivially anyway).

MacOS has a scripting language called AppleScript which lets you trivially script pretty much every GUI app that runs on the system. In OS X, they've made it so that for an app to NOT be scriptable, the developer of that app would have to do it on purpose.

So... just because Windows and Linux don't have a good solution to this problem doesn't mean that the problem applies to EVERY GUI.

Not that I expect trolls to RTFA, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344492)

We also have some beginnings of arch GUIs. Here too I hope to see one of them mature and perhaps become distributed with Arch. One nice side effect of that is that it will clear a path for integrating arch with existing IDEs.

On the serious side, it will be nice when this is integrated with eclipse.

Tact? (4, Funny)

keiferb (267153) | about 10 years ago | (#10344154)

This guy should go into politics! His brain-mouth cable has no filter on it. It'd be nice to hear politicians describe their colleagues' bills as "a horrible, horrible design based on a few very good ideas" or "clunky junk".

I'd love to hear his opinion on the vi/emacs debate... that'd get some heads rollin'!

I disagree... (4, Interesting)

CaptainPinko (753849) | about 10 years ago | (#10344348)

don't we get enough marketing droids that can't ever say what they mean? I agree he was upfront, blunt, and brutal but in the end he didn't seem crazy or wild or unreasonable. He even backed up some of his more inflammatory statements. I think he was a very good interviewee. He did seem to be a little too forgiving to his project own weaknesses but that's is not unexpected and relatively forgiveable.

Re:Tact? (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | about 10 years ago | (#10344497)

I dunno, the best software I've seen has come out of derision of bad software. I don't think the creator of Postfix loved sendmail too much. Many people dislike BIND and have come out with arguably better alternatives.

The other extreme is just developers who hate the popular software just for the sake of hating popularity. That seems to be the case with DSpam over Spamassassin. I don't think that's the case here however. While CVS is reliable software and people know how to work around its flaws (and the creator of arch fully admits that) it is at the same time fairly flawed.

I'd tend to agree that CVS is klunky in the way he describes. I still use it of course since it gets the job done. I've not tried subversion at all, so I can't comment on how well that fixes the problems of CVS.

Design and License (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344167)

Well, he slams the subversion design pretty good. I don't know anything about the design of subversion of either Arch or Subversion to comment on either - maybe someone else can, but subversion seems to be gaining quite a following from what I've seen.

Look at the way the Linux kernel project works, at least for developers who are willing to drink the koolaid of Bit Keeper (BK) licensing.

I guess that's a different koolaid than what the Stallman/Gnu cult members are drinking.

I hate it. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344169)

Either you hate it or think it is the best thing in revision control ever.

I hate it! God damnit! What was wrong with CVS? (that's a rhetorical question) It was so easy to just cvs co and cvs up.

Then there's some non-intuitive system that everyon and their dog wants to use.

Bah.

Bah I say!

Re:I hate it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344594)

What was wrong with CVS?

Umm... its hopelessly inadequate security? CVS is the main reason why open source projects have been cracked. I think it's time to bury CVS, the same way we buried Sendmail, *BSD, Perl and other exploited pieces of shit.

DId anyone else ... (-1, Redundant)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 10 years ago | (#10344175)

read the Title like this.

"Tom, Lord of Arch ....."

Trekkies only (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344751)

Computer, Arch!

Damn.

d00d, ur source management sysemz BLOW (2, Insightful)

wankledot (712148) | about 10 years ago | (#10344178)

I don't know anything about Mr. Lord's product, but I do know he sounds like a 12 year old boy when he writes. People might respect you and your work more if you use the word "blows" a little less, and spend less time lashing out at other products with such ferocity.

'Ever hear of the "zero-block over NFS" problem?' (2, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | about 10 years ago | (#10344179)

Is this a CVS problem or a NFS problem?

Either way, the solution is "don't run CVS over NFS". Use the client-server protocal - either ext or pserver.

Re:'Ever hear of the "zero-block over NFS" problem (1)

tanguyr (468371) | about 10 years ago | (#10344397)

I thought this was the "don't checkout a sandbox on a shared drive" thing, not some problem in talking to the cvs server.

Re:'Ever hear of the "zero-block over NFS" problem (1)

tcopeland (32225) | about 10 years ago | (#10344456)

Hm, maybe. But I think it's pretty much both - running CVS over NFS, whether by putting the local copy on an NFS drive or by using the local CVS protocol to access an NFS drive, is a bad idea.

Unfortunately I'm not enough of a guru to know who to blame it on - CVS or NFS - but I know how to avoid it :-)

I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344192)

I'd love to have a Free, lightweight, distributed, reliable, easy to use revision control system.

CVS is Free and lightweight. I run it on my handheld with no problems.

Subversion is Free, reliable (so far), and very easy to use. In fact the stripped-down CVS-based CLI interface is just slightly different than CVS but much more productive.

Arch is all of the above.. EXCEPT easy to use. Here's the "eye-opener" that Mr. Lord really needs to address:

% svn --help | grep '^ ' | wc -l
28

% tla help | grep ' : ' | wc -l
105

I'm sorry but just watching that scroll by is enough to make me say "well, maybe I'll figure this out later". Which is what I do every time I look at Arch.

What I would like is a RCS that has the ease of use of Subversion, but uses changesets like Arch, and uses a lightweight storage system like Arch. I totally agree with his complaints about Subversion.. it is a bloated toy (using Berkeley DB for versioned tree storage is just the most bizarre decision). But the interface is the best, hands-down...

So.. where's the killer open source RCS?? Open source is supposed to be about good no-frills development tools!

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344443)

"So.. where's the killer open source RCS?"

It is called darcs:

http://abridgegame.org/darcs/ [abridgegame.org]

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (2, Insightful)

Helmholtz Coil (581131) | about 10 years ago | (#10344485)

Here's a couple to have a look at:

PRCS [sf.net]
Superversion [sf.net]

Of the two I use PRCS all the time for production code. Superversion's still a very new project but I think it shows a lot of promise, and well worth a periodic look.

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344508)

What I would like is a RCS that has the ease of use of Subversion, but uses changesets like Arch, and uses a lightweight storage system like Arch.

And of course is decentralised like arch.

Darcs [abridgegame.org]

Darcs wiki [scannedinavian.org]

Getting started with darcs in 5 steps [scannedinavian.org]

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (1)

mrkh (38362) | about 10 years ago | (#10344521)

I think CVS is the best of a pretty poor bunch at the moment - it may not be flashy, but it works. Subversion looks nice, and is mostly a better cvs, but it seemed to be a touch flaky with large (>1Gb) trees when I last tried it (getting itself into a corrupt state). It also used to let you check in files with bad filenames and then protest when you tried to check out. And lots of little things are essentially undocumented so you're forced to rely on the mailing list too much. I'm not thrilled about aspects of the design either.

I wish RCS authors would think of Windows when they're designing these things. Like it or not, a RCS without decent Windows support is never going to be taken seriously. The arrogant 'it was never intended to run on a non POSIX system, don't expect to have a full-blown arch on your Microsoft computer.' attitude that Arch displays is childish and ultimately unhelpful IMHO.

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (2, Interesting)

mrdlinux (132182) | about 10 years ago | (#10344643)

I use Subversion at work with a large (half-gig) source tree, and primarily on Windows (with TortoiseSVN). We use the new FSFS backend. Seems to do quite well, even on a networked filesystem.

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (1)

Mr.Ned (79679) | about 10 years ago | (#10344615)

svk is an attempt to use the svn backend to implement a changeset-oriented distributed revision control system.

Re:I don't like CVS, Subversion, or Arch (4, Informative)

mrdlinux (132182) | about 10 years ago | (#10344617)

You want Darcs. http://abridgegame.org/darcs/ [abridgegame.org] .

Using it is as simple as:

darcs init <dir>

.. hack hack ..

darcs add <file>
darcs record

.. interactive questions about changes ..

Then you have the option of sending your changes to other repositories, since Darcs is distributed.
You can copy/upload them directly, pull them from the other side, or even email them.

GNU arch when an OSA (2, Interesting)

JohnGrahamCumming (684871) | about 10 years ago | (#10344196)

GNU arch was awarded [opensource.org] an Open Source Award last quarter.

As ever people OSI is accepting [opensource.org] nominations for OSAs.

John.

Most polar? (3, Interesting)

Sean Starkey (4594) | about 10 years ago | (#10344198)

I think the most polar source control system is Rational's ClearCase. You really love it or really hate. It's a very complex software package, but very powerful.

Personally, I really like ClearCase. Too bad its so expensive, otherwise I'd use it for all my open source work.

Re:Most polar? (4, Interesting)

wintermute42 (710554) | about 10 years ago | (#10344302)

Cost issues aside, I think that perception of ClearCase is effected by whether you have to set ClearCase up yourself or not.

The first time I used ClearCase I had to set up the ClearCase environment. I did not like the ClearCase documentation much. Rather that just telling you what you need to know to get the system set up they provide their grand vision of the world. I could care less about their grand vision, I want to get the source control system working. After this experience I was not a big fan of ClearCase.

I used ClearCase again in an environment where the release engineering group managed ClearCase, along with the releases. They would "freeze" the branches for release (and let you in when you had a bug fix). They would also create new development branches and they managed the main line branch. In this environment ClearCase was really nice. I liked it a lot and prefer it over CVS.

In summary I'd say that ClearCase is a higher cost source control system. You not only have to pay for the software license for ClearCase but part of someone's time to manage it as well. For small projects and software development groups this does not make sense. But once a group reaches a certain size, the cost can be justified and ClearCase is nice.

I am currently working on a project where there there is a core set of software that is used by three different groups, each of which will probably want their own changes. In this environment I think that a release engineering group and ClearCase would be justified (of course that does not mean that we're going to get a relase engineering group and ClearCase).

Re:Most polar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344354)

Damn you are right. I forgot about this. I hate it intensely.

Re:Most polar? (1)

renehollan (138013) | about 10 years ago | (#10344405)

Clearcase is an overbloated, expensive pig of an RCS.

Now, that's not to say that I haven't appreciated Multisite, or some of the hairier things I could do merge/branch-wise with Clearcase, so it's a clever pig, but overbloated and expensive nevertheless.

Re:Most polar? (1)

tanguyr (468371) | about 10 years ago | (#10344536)

Yes, but the grandparent is basically saying "if you don't have to pay for it or install/administer it" (something called "being a user" in the commercial software world) then it's pretty good - and i tend to agree with him. Ten minutes of googling will have you doing most of your day to day stuff just as well in cleartool as you did in cvs, and after that the sky's the limit for the overwhelming majority of developers. The (very) few things you can't do in cleartool (like not treating checkedout as a find visible label) you can implement in some kind of scripting language. Sure, there might be a whole army of frustrated sysadmins cursing all day behind the scenes, but, hey, they don't even sit in the same building as me ;)

Re:Most polar? (1)

red floyd (220712) | about 10 years ago | (#10344477)

Don't know about that... You ever use Perforce?

Re:Most polar? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 10 years ago | (#10344561)

Having used CC, it has a lot of problems. At work, we have 1 division that uses it that needs to share code with mine which doesn't. 90% of our ideas for processes and build ideas were shot down because "its too hard to do it in ClearCase". For our RCS system, we have 1 guy admin it part time. For theres, they need a full time admin.

Oh, lets not forget that WIndows clients were unable to talk to Unix vobs, and vice versa. And lets not get into the bloated, bandwidth eating, utterly useless pig that is multisite.

Re:Most polar? (1)

ZorroXXX (610877) | about 10 years ago | (#10344734)

We use clearcase at work and I love it. Especially the wonderful VFS integration. Every version of a file is available through adding "@@" and branch and version. Want to compare version 3 and 5 of the some_branch of an element? Just run "diff -u myfile.c@@/main/some_branch/3 myfile.c@@/main/some_branch/5".

To sum up, clearcase is very good but very expensive. I have been searching for a version control system for my private use, and I have not found anything where branching, merging and labeling is as easy as in clearcase (if possible at all!).

Granted I have used clearcase for years now and know it quite well. But many of the other version control system at best provides shadows of what I want and expect a version control system to do. The last system i looked into was monotone [venge.net] and as far as I can see it only supports merging from the head (LATEST in clearcase). When it cannot merge from an non-head element it is useless for me.

What I really, really, really want to do is the following:

Put the Linux kernel source into version control. The main, "official" version from Linus I would put on a branch named "linus". Then I would subbranch this with other branches, for instance "fedora" for the kernel provided from Fedora [redhat.com] , "planetccrma" for the kernel provided by Planet CCRMA [stanford.edu] , and probably some other branches for things like swsusp [sf.net] .

When checking in a new official kernel I want to attach a label, say "LINUX_2_6_9". I then want to be able to use this label as a reference when merging. The swsusp project is fully up to date with regards to kernel versions, but say that the last patch from then only was for kernel version 2.6.5. I then want to be able to subbranch the swsusp branch with "myswsusp" and try to merge from LINUX_2_6_9. Of course the version control system should find out which version is the common parent, remember if any merges has been done previously and assist as much as possible in a 3-way merge.

If any of you readers have a suggestion for a free system capable of such a scenario, please make yourself heard. I know I have looked into Arch a very long time ago, I guess I will look into it again now.

who fucking cares (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344214)

slow news day, or niche story that 1% of Slashdotters actually give a flying fuck about, or both. Take your pick.

offtopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344335)

You smarmy prick. It's actually completely on-topic seeing as it's about the article in question. How else will Slashdot improve without some constructive critique.

Re:offtopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344361)

yeah....how was that constructive again?

Newsflash: that WAS relevant to most intelligent /. readers. If it doesn't interest you, don't fucking read it. You'd probably be better off watching Fox anyway.

wow you sound very clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344424)

I have been smitten by your clever retorts and never again will I be able post without thinking of you looming over my messages, ready to strike at a moments notice. You sir are a champion of the idiots and I sincerely thank you for setting me straight. I'm sure now that nearly everyone gives a flying fuck about Tom Lord and his software magic.

Glad to see.... (5, Informative)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 10 years ago | (#10344226)

Support Services (coming soon...)
* Per Incident
* Subscription
* Deployment Services
* Custom Development

that they're considering starting Support services soon. As a Configuration Management guy at a fairly large company, one of the reasons major corporations choose commercial version control software (Rational ClearCase, etc) over the open source counterparts (CVS, etc) is primarily due to lack of formal support.

I'm all for open source and even dislike it when companies reject Linux because of "lack of support" (this is ofcourse changing with RedHat's efforts), but experience has taught me that not everybody in a large organization is a hacker and willing to figure out the intricacies incase something goes wrong. They'd rather pay for a service contract incase anything goes wrong.

And ofcourse, there's also the accountability angle (which I dislike) to it, when you're using the version control software to develop critical/huge amount of bread-and-butter software - companies want to be able to have someone to point fingers at incase something messes up.

Re:Glad to see.... (1)

tcopeland (32225) | about 10 years ago | (#10344436)

> over the open source counterparts (CVS, etc)
> is primarily due to lack of formal support.

Here's a company that offers support contracts for CVS [ximbiot.com] .

Re:Glad to see.... (1)

The Pim (140414) | about 10 years ago | (#10344652)

Support Services (coming soon...)

I dearly hope this company will be called orthotics.

(Get it?)

Re:Glad to see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344664)

just in case [reference.com] ...

Re:Glad to see.... (1)

radish (98371) | about 10 years ago | (#10344718)

As a dev at a (very) major corporation, I would like to point out that this isn't always the case. We have always used CVS and recently launched an internal sourceforge instance. Oh and despite being a traditional Sun shop, we now have Linux compute farms :)

CVS Clunky? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344228)

How can he say CVS is clunky junk?

I use it on my 486 SCO Unix machine and think it's the cat's meow.

Re:CVS Clunky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344568)

Shut up Darl, noone wants to hear about your sex life.

worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344240)

I get worried when the first thing on the page for Arch is a short bio of Lord Developer. WTF? Just good code please, no large egos. 'nuff said.

All that and he doesn't explain... (5, Insightful)

omaha (41554) | about 10 years ago | (#10344271)

I use subversion and have been on the lists for a couple of years now. Tom Lord has been to those lists as well. In all those times, including this one, he has never explained how arch is better. For the lead developer to be unable to communicate the rasion d'etre for a project in a way that makes others curious is not a good thing.

Primarily, he has only flamed svn. Even this interview he talked more about svn than arch. Nothing he said raised any interest in me to look at arch.

Also, his criticism of svn's current backend was true 8 months ago. There is another backend that will be available soon. And with that, the sytem will be able to handle additonal backends in good form.

SVK, which Lord mentioned, is a feather in svn's hat since it uses subversion as a base. If distributed mode is a real need I would suggest looking at BK or svk.

I'll explain. (0, Redundant)

GeekDork (194851) | about 10 years ago | (#10344334)

Gabbo Gabbo Gabbo!

Re:All that and he doesn't explain... (5, Informative)

omaha (41554) | about 10 years ago | (#10344412)

As to svn backends... I think it is prudent to point out a false statement made by Lord.

from: http://web.mit.edu/ghudson/info/fsfs/ [mit.edu]

"FSFS" is the name of a Subversion filesystem implementation, an
alternative to the original Berkeley DB-based implementation. See
http://subversion.tigris.org/ [tigris.org] for information about Subversion. This
is a propaganda document for FSFS, to help people determine if they
should be interested in using it instead of the BDB filesystem.

and from http://subversion.tigris.org/svn_1.1_releasenotes. html [tigris.org]
"Non-database repositories

It's now possible to create repositories that don't use a BerkeleyDB database. Instead, these new repositories store data in the ordinary filesystem. Because Subversion developers often refer to the repository as "The Filesystem", we have adopted the rather confusing habit of referring to these new repositories as "fsfs" repositories... that is, a Filesystem implementation that uses the OS filesystem to store data."

Re:All that and he doesn't explain... (4, Interesting)

tlord (703093) | about 10 years ago | (#10344464)

> As to svn backends... I think it is prudent to
> point out a false statement made by Lord.
> [Hey, FSFS exists.]

I agree it is good to point out FSFS. The
interview is, indeed, misleading in that
respect.

As far as I know, back when the interview was
conducted, FSFS did not exist or at least was
not on many radars.

A separate question is whether or not FSFS
really makes the server-side of svn all nice
now or not --- but certainly that is not going
to be worked out in /. comments.

-t

Re:All that and he doesn't explain... (3, Insightful)

omaha (41554) | about 10 years ago | (#10344602)

I agree that this won't be settled here, but I do maintain that now a second backend has been accepted in to the mainline it will be far simpler to intergate other backends now. And with that, I expect to see more backends become available. Primarily due to the fact that the developers are more acutely aware of predispositions that would affect the ability of svn to integrate with "other" backends.

As to the merge capabilities, I agree there is room for improvement. However, I believe that developers/project managers are more comfortable with evolutionary change as opposed to revolutionary. In that light, I predict that svn has a bright future.

svn already has a number of front ends HTTP, SVN:// and webdav. And now, mulitple backends. It is this decoupling that will allow svn to go where cvs could not.

I in no way have any ill-will twoards T. Lord. I would only suggest that he focus on the positive aspects of arch instead of the current ego battle with other version control systems. This is one area where the best will be used. Seasoned Developers/Project managers care about this subject. If a solution is truly head and shoulders above the rest it will be recognized and used.

Re:All that and he doesn't explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344574)

Correct link, without the trailing slash:
http://web.mit.edu/ghudson/info/fsfs [mit.edu]

Change is good... (2, Informative)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | about 10 years ago | (#10344300)

while my company is stuck in CVS, Subversion is not going to be too big a jump. As the build manager I'm heading up the switch, and love the similarities, and the advantages of svn. I've installed/played with ARCH, however I've never gotten very comfortable with it. While I don't think it would be very hard to learn, there's certainly a learning curve that others will have to go through.

PCB@!

zero (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344316)

arch tutorial [gnu.org]

Argument by Slashdot(r) ? (5, Funny)

legLess (127550) | about 10 years ago | (#10344331)

Tom Lord sounds like he got his argumentation skills by watching Beavis and Butthead, reading JeffK [slashdot.org] , and getting into flame wars with trolls on /.

Q: What's wrong with Subversion?
A: It sucks.
Q: What's wrong with CVS?
A: It sucks.
Q: Can you be more specific about Subversion?
A: Yes. Subversion is teh suck. I realize that's a little inflamatory, so let me say that the sky is blue, dogs are hairy, and Subversion is TEH SUCK, fagg0t!!11
Q: Can you be more specific about CVS?
A: Yes, allow me to be more specific. It sux0rs. Hard. CVS is teh sux0r.
Q: What's good about Arch?
A: It rules. Also, I have a large penis. Fagg0t.

Re:Argument by Slashdot(r) ? (2, Informative)

mikefe (98074) | about 10 years ago | (#10344498)

OMG!

This actually convinced me to read the linked article.

I'm not even half way through and I'm already laughing!

Re:Argument by Slashdot(r) ? (3, Interesting)

legLess (127550) | about 10 years ago | (#10344551)

This actually convinced me to read the linked article.
No greater praise for a /. comment :) I feel beatified.

Re:Argument by Slashdot(r) ? (1)

mikefe (98074) | about 10 years ago | (#10344777)

"I feel beatified."

Now the question is "How does that make you feel?"

Re:Argument by Slashdot(r) ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344619)

I laughed so hard I about pissed myself.

Not very impressive (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344367)

The guy tends to use strong words when describing the flaws of cvs/svn. However, he gives no details. There seems to be a lot of talk with little information.

Even if this arch thing is good, i am not going to switch for two reasons: i am happy with cvs, being aware of its drawbacks, switching to a better system is not critical; i am certainly not impressed by what its author says.
Perhaps i should have given them the other way around.

No people skills. (5, Interesting)

Ectospheno (724239) | about 10 years ago | (#10344404)

Tom Lord has tried to work more closely with other revision control packages before (including the subversion team) but he has been hampered by his complete and total lack of people skills. I don't think he tries to, but he ends up offending everyone he tries to have a "discussion" with. Its comical and sad at the same time.

Re:No people skills. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344511)

He's hampered more by the blind faith of other people in their own way of doing things, and their unwillingness to listen to anything new.

Re:No people skills. (3, Funny)

LizardKing (5245) | about 10 years ago | (#10344588)

He certainly comes across as someone suffering from Tourette Syndrome [wikipedia.org] . I've been considering the possibility of being classified as a sufferer myself. That way I can "legitimately" shout obscenities at my boss in planning meetings.

Re:No people skills. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344676)

You fail to realize that Tom Lord is a genius, and as such has no need for people skills.

Re:No people skills. (4, Insightful)

tlord (703093) | about 10 years ago | (#10344695)

> You fail to realize that Tom Lord is a genius,
> and as such has no need for people skills.

I only wish....

lol jews did wtc (1)

lol jews did wtc (814585) | about 10 years ago | (#10344417)

-- .e.o __l__ __l__
- .ecloudo l. . .l i. . .l
. ooe l. . .i l. . .i
- l`\ o l. . .l i. . .l
l\_\_\___, l. . .i l. . .i
-= l_JEWAIR__\ . .l. . .l i. . .l
- / / . . . . l. . .i l. . .i
-- l_/ - i l. . .l i. . .l
-- - - l. . .i l. . .i
concreteconcretecol. i .lci. i .lconcret
concreteconcreteconcreteconcreteconcret e

First intelligent post (-1, Offtopic)

dsfox (2694) | about 10 years ago | (#10344434)

First intelligent post!

Re:First intelligent post -- MOD PARENT UP (1)

pklinken (773410) | about 10 years ago | (#10344653)

funny cos it's true

It's impossible to take Tom Lord seriously (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344480)

Article summary: every decision made in the development of Subversion is an obvious mistake and a total failure - the result of naive programmers daring to disagree with the "Lord" of revision control.

When given the chance to talk about versioning systems, he spends more time bad-mouthing the competition than
he does promoting his own solution. Did one of the Subversion guys "steal" his girlfriend or something?

Re:It's impossible to take Tom Lord seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344526)

Did one of the Subversion guys "steal" his girlfriend or something?

That assumes he had a girlfriend. Doubtful. Remember, this is /.

darcs (4, Interesting)

The Pim (140414) | about 10 years ago | (#10344494)

Ok, I admit I just want to get darcs mentioned here, but I really want to know what Tom (as well as Larry McVoy) thinks about darcs [abridgegame.org] . In particular, whether the theory [abridgegame.org] will stand up to real use and scale to large projects. I have a hunch that David Roundy has discovered much of what Larry McVoy said was a dozen PhD theses worth of research [google.com] behind BitKeeper.

Larry McVoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344754)

is just trying to protect his source of income.

Of course he's going to discourage anybody who wants to implement a SCM/VC system (by any means necessary, including the BK license). I mean why the hell would he encourage people to develop competitors to his system?

Non-database repositories (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344532)

Subversion 1.1 has support for a normal filesystem backend instead of BerklyDB. See release notes [tigris.org] .

It's now possible to create repositories that don't use a BerkeleyDB database. Instead, these new repositories store data in the ordinary filesystem.

they *all* suck (2, Interesting)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 10 years ago | (#10344535)

if someone can tell me of such a tool which can handle filesystem ownerships and permissions (in the context of Linux, in my case), and version them, I would like to hear it.

At the moment I am using subversion because it has versioned properties and I wrote a bunch of scripts to extract filesystem metadata and create svn properties from them and vice versa.

We have at least one arch fanatic where I work and when I asked him about this, he seemed to think that using arch for what I want would be *fantastic* and arch would rule, only I'd have to use the cvs method of maintaining ownerships and permissions, ie a script which maintains them in a file which is in the repository. Which I tried and which sucks.

He misses an important point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10344554)

Tom gets a lot of stuff right, but, like Mcvoy, he really wants the fact that certain things work well for the Linux kernel to imply that they will work well for projects in general. Sorry, but this ain't really true. Tools like BK and Arch obviously facilitate the way that the Linux kernel is developed, but most projects do not use the same kind of organization that the Linux kernel does, and would be much better off with different tools.

Similar to MKS (1)

Daagar (764445) | about 10 years ago | (#10344584)

From a brief look at arch (via the tutorial, etc), it appears that arch is an open source MKS [mks.com] without all the graphical goodies.

Having had experience with MKS and the idea of changesets (and being able to merge changeset across branches) this is VERY powerful. Tied with a tracking system, project management/config. management becomes greatly simplified. Regardless of how Arch does, hopefully it'll spur others to add more changeset features to their software as well.

Arch is great--it's real weaknesses (2, Informative)

demi (17616) | about 10 years ago | (#10344673)

I've been using arch for a while now. It's true that some of the setup is "too difficult"--it discourages adoption, but really, the documentation is quite good and example-laden.

I think the two real weaknesses of Arch are (and neither of these are showstoppers for me and well worth the Arch-y goodness):

  • Lack of keyword substitution. I believe Tom's explicit position is that keyword substitution is properly the job of some kind of build or release system outside of version control, and that's probably right; but I like embedded version numbers and so forth.
  • Hooks are client-side-only. Since arch doesn't count on a particular storage backend or access method, it means you can't write hooks that force, for example, certain tests, or does notifications, upon commit or other actions on the tree. I think this is a more serious weakness; but to fix it might mean giving up the advantages of a server-free implementation.

arch is... (5, Informative)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | about 10 years ago | (#10344683)

The good things about arch is:

  1. Changeset orientation --- patches are project oriented, not file-oriented, which is better (IMHO)
  2. Easy to make a private branch of a repository which you do not have access to
  3. Supposedly good merge mechanism
  4. Revisions are stored as simple changesets (patches) with only tarring and bzip2'ing.
  5. It has a lot of advanced features.

The first two are why I use arch. The bad things are

  1. In Tom Lord's words, tla (the arch implementation) is a box of sharp knives. In other words, the interface is dangerous, uncomfortable, extremely badly documented and very clunky. E.g. simple operations like switching branch requires several commands and until all commands are executed the local version is in an inconsistent and unusable state
  2. It's very slow. When working from a local repository, it feel roughly like cvs on a public mirror. A patch to partly fix this was rejected.
  3. It uses just about every character available to the UNIX file system, including comma, =, {,} and more, and generates insanely long name. Some work is supposedly going on to fix the long names, though.
  4. To use safely, you have to know some graph theory. (I do, but I don't believe everyone should)
  5. Some commands are only safe if you have perfect knowledge of other users actions (star-merge).

Oh yeah, the development has just sun-flared just when it had begun starting up again. A huge flame war (where Tom's primary contribution seemed to be "Grow up", "You're childish" and worse) arch is now without a release manager, and understandable nobody wants to take that role.

In short, arch has great promise, but needs some drastic changes.

Arch's biggest bug (4, Interesting)

dozer (30790) | about 10 years ago | (#10344758)

A quote from an email conversation with an unnamed Arch user in January: "I think Arch's biggest bug is the one up the developer's collective asses."

This article is a good example. Tom Lord just hand-waves his way past every question. Subversion sucks!!! CVS users are teh stupid!!! If he tones it down a bit, he definitely has a future in politics. But I don't think he's a very good software architect.

OK, it's true that CVS and Subversion have problems. But, gak, so does Arch. Good God is it slow for big projects (something they've been promising to fix for years). And it's got some horrifying naming conventions: "tla--devo--1.3". And the files! "{arch}", "++default-version", ",,inode-sigs". Whatever Lord was smoking, it must have been good. The branching and merging operators are powerful but, thanks to all the punctuantion, they are also ugly. It's like the entire UI goes out of its way to be downright unfriendly.

Every time someone mentions these deficiencies on the mailing list, they just get flamed for not truly understanding Arch. "Namespaces! Namespaces! Namespaces!" "Win32 is for lusrs!" Whatever. I just want a tool that helps me get the job done.

Personally, I'm in the middle of transitioning to Subversion. It's better than CVS, and it is faster and nicer to use than Arch. Works for me.

Your biggest strength is to know your weaknesses (2, Interesting)

patrikoftheschwa (610312) | about 10 years ago | (#10344764)

What struck me as interesting about his comments is he only admitted to one flaw in Arch and he sort of mumbled it out: "...performance...won't bother most users...yadda, yadda, yadda".

I find it hard to believe that Arch would be so perfect. If he really knew the strength of his software he would also have no problem admitting to its weaknesses and Arch would be that much better for it.

Instead he spent most of the article attacking Subversion. If Arch is really that good, why would he spend so much time complaining and critiquing something else?

Arch has great potential... (1)

mfago (514801) | about 10 years ago | (#10344773)

but in my (admittedly short) trial of arch I ran into a few show-stopping issues:
no reliable cvs--tla converter (cscvs is under development)
no GUI yet (necessary for some developers)
doesn't install on AIX 4.3.3 (ugh...)
These are all known issues under development (I wish I had time to help resolve them), and I'll try arch again in a while.
As is frequently pointed out, arch is also very different than CVS.
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