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Re: Consensus on MT-, AS- and AC-Safety docs.

On Nov 25, 2013, Torvald Riegel <> wrote:

> It's not a double-standard if we try to make things better in areas in
> which can do things differently (e.g., new terms for MT-Safety).

We evidently disagree as to what is better in this regard.

> That we have this other kind of naming on different entities in a
> different context (ie, one are function names, other are terms used in
> documentation)

Both are terms that are fully defined in the documentation.  Short
non-English words are extremely common in documents meant to document
and teach the meaning of terms that people might be interested in, and
they're defined precisely elsewhere.  Surely you are familiar with
the concept of a dictionary.  Here's what an on-line dictionary has to
say about the term itself:

  Dictionary \Dic"tion*a*ry\, n.; pl. {Dictionaries}.
  [Cf. F. dictionnaire. See {Diction}.]  1. A book containing the words
  of a language, arranged alphabetically, with explanations of their
  meanings; [...] 2. [...]

There, ân.â, âpl.â, âCf.â, âF.â are all non-English terms used for
convenience throughout the dictionary, and defined precisely elsewhere.
Whoever first looks up a word in a dictionary might be unfamiliar with
these terms, and have to look up their definition until they get
sufficiently acquainted and comfortable with them.

It's obviously not the case that dictionary users look up words because
they want to become familiar with the abbreviations used in the
dictionary; they want to learn the meanings of words they're not
familiar with.  But that the dictionary uses non-English forms, without
linking to them at every use, doesn't seem to have ever been a problem.

Why should that be a problem for us?

>> Exactly!  They want to learn *exactly* what those odd combinations of
>> letters mean!  Somehow when it's a function name among other made-up
>> terms from C, that's perfectly readable,

> Why do you think those are perfectly readable?

Linguistics: because we're already used to them.  Which is not something
we can say about the target audience of the manual, who wants to read it
*precisely* because they're not already familiar with these terms.

>> but when it's a one-line table
>> among other equally made up terms, then it can't work, and you're
>> willing to sacrifice precision to avoid using them?!?

> We are not sacrificing precision.  Even your made-up names aren't
> self-contained definitions, and you still need to read the definition,
> so where is the lack of precision?

The difference is that made-up terms pretty much require people to go
look up the definition, and since they're made up, there won't be other
meanings already associated with them.  This cannot be said of existing
words: since they already have a meaning attached to them, readers may
get the idea that they do not have to look them up to find out what they
mean in that context.

>> As a last attempt to come to an agreement, before I decide we're at an
>> impasse, here's a list of keywords I'd be willing to adopt.

> (I don't think an ultimatum is a good end to a discussion.  Did others
> choose this option?)

It's not an ultimatum.  Think of it as knocking on a door or calling
someone and hearing the signals corresponding to rings on the other
side, and not getting any answer.  If you think âok, just one more
knock/ringâ, it's not an ultimatum, it's just a realization that the
attempt to communicate is not working, and that there's no point in
insisting on it any further.

Our present situation, although not characterized by a complete lack of
response, amounts to each party of the discussion restating their
unmovable position, without any progress whatsoever and without any
perspective of progress.  Therefore, a similar assessment that there's
no point in insisting on it makes just as much sense.

> Are these the keywords shown to the user, or the keywords used
> internally?

The ones I propose are to be shown to users.

>> Current         Proposed
>> staticbuf       race

> I'd prefer datarace for this.

This might give users incorrect ideas.  getpwent_r, for example, would
be marked with this note, even though there's no actual data race in
place; what there is is a potential race between threads to modify the
internal iterator maintained (guarded by a lock) by the pwent-walking
machinery.  There's no data race, and no inconsistency, but multiple
threads iterating over the same list will be racing for entries, and
multiple threads attempting to each running a separate iteration will
step on each other's toes, in spite of all changes to the iterator being
properly guarded by the functions that access and modify them.

>> lockleak        lock
>> selfdeadlock    lock

> Merging these two seems fine from a user POV (but see further comments
> below).

>> asynconsist     corrupt
>> incansist       corrupt

> Do we have a better word for these inconsistencies?

This was the best (as far as I'm concerned) I could come up with.
Inconsistent is too long, and partially-updated is even worse.

>> asmalloc        malloc
>> asi18n          i18n

> Given that they will be used in the AS context, I suppose that's fine.

Actually, I was thinking of moving these out of the AS context, for they
also imply AC problems.  I'm not sure how to deal with that yet.  The
same applies to these two:

>> shlimb          dlopen
>> uplugin         plugin

> No opinion so far.

>> oncesafe        init
>> 1stcall         init

> Might be fine from a user POV (but see below).

>> uunguard        const
>> xguargs         race
>> tempchwd        cwd
>> tempsig         sig
>> tempterm        term
>> stimer          timer
>> glocale         locale

> No opinion so far (I wanted to reply quickly to the other points).

Thanks a lot for your concern, it's really appreciated.  I wish we could
come to an agreement about this as quickly as possible, because I'm
otherwise blocked, and I hope this can make 2.19.

>> envromt         env

> Out of curiosity, why not "environment"?  Was that just to save a few
> characters?

Yup.  env is a pretty standard shortening for environment, and I hope
the one-line table remains one-line ;-)

>> fdleak          fd
>> memleak         leak

> I don't quite understand the reasons behind the renaming for these two.
> If both are leaks, why not keep fdleak and memleak?

Shortening and avoidance of non-English or non-standard terms.  fd a
very commonly used shortening for file descriptor, which is what this
issue is about, and that vacated the term leak so that it could be used
in its most frequent sense.  That said, I suppose using mem or heap
instead of both malloc and leak would work, too.

>> unposix         posix
>> Can we all agree on these?

> I think it would be unfortunate to loose some of the insight you have
> been gathering (eg, loose the distinction between self-deadlock and
> potentially missing lock releases).

No loss there.  selfdeadlock was AS-only and lockleak was AC-only, so
the distinction would remain.  Indeed, I'd probably still use different
macros for them, just to make it easier to set them apart mechanically,
should we decide to do so at a later time.

The only classes that would actually become indistinguishable would be
staticbuf and xguargs, and maybe some or all cases of uunguard.  The
more I thought about these, the more I concluded the definitions were
mostly hair-splitting; adding sub-notes that indicate what the race is
about will make up for any apparent loss.

> can we keep the insights documented in detail, and show the users only
> a reduced set of annotations (e.g., with some annotations merged into
> one class as in your mapping)?

I'm not yet convinced we don't want to tell users what the safety
problems are, so I'm definitely keeping the keywords and macros
(possibly expanding to nothing), so deciding that is not at the top of
my priority list; deciding the keywords is.

Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! --   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist      Red Hat Brazil Compiler Engineer

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