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arnuld
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 3:52 am    Post subject: why Gentoo uses "/usr/src/symlink" Reply with quote

i got these 2 from Google:

http://linuxgazette.net/issue62/tag/4.html
http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Kernel/usr-src-linux-symlink.html (Linus Torvalds's email reply)

just have a look, these say using "/usr/src/linux' a symlink is a relic and really a bad idea. i want to know why Gentoo uses this symlink, any technical reason. (AFAIK CRUX and Arch do not use this symlink)
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have /usr/src/symlink on my system, and never remember it existing.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You misunderstood those posts, I think. The /usr/include/asm symlink is the one that those refer to, not /usr/src/linux. Gentoo uses /usr/src/linux to allow the build system (for nvidia drivers, fglrx, etc.) to know what kernel to build for - it uses whatever /usr/src/linux points to, instead of the currently running kernel to allow building drivers for a newly-installed kernel, instead of the currently-running kernel.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

broken_chaos wrote:
You misunderstood those posts, I think. The /usr/include/asm symlink is the one that those refer to, not /usr/src/linux.


NO, check this:

[Mike] This is the normal Linux convention. Actually, you can place your build tree anywhere, but you should make /usr/src/linux a symlink to it so that the compiler will find the include files.

[Michal] Actually no, you SHOULDN'T!! Please do not spread an incorrect information in TAG or Linus will come and will haunt you for the rest of your lives.

# some more .....

hacking around the with a link in /usr/src is a mistake as Linus tried to explain many times - sometimes quite forcibly. Headers used in a kernel compilation are NOT searched for in subdirectories of /usr/src/linux but are specific to a kernel version and can be drastically different between different versions, or at least you do not have any guarantees that they are not. If you happen to have sources to one of 2.2 kernels and one of 2.4 then /usr/src/linux link is supposed to mean what?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can find plenty of mentions that any program that requires /usr/src/linux are using an outdated link concept.

http://osdir.com/ml/arch.general/2005-10/msg00249.html

Does Gentoo really need it? Or is it just inertia that keeps it there?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you could just rename the curent kernel to just linux and so not use the -symlink flag for kernel emerge
it is flexibil
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, a different way of doing the same thing.

But my question is, since no less an authority than Linus is saying this is a bad practice, and is only necessary because of bad programming practices, then what in Gentoo still makes it necessary, and why is it still being done the "old" way?

The discussion of the subject seems to indicate that there are preferred alternatives to any past methods of reading kernel headers from that link.

If there is a particular reason that a "source based" distribution would still have a pressing need for this while other distros would not, great, what is the explanation for that? Such an explanation should be presented when other lists and fora make these claims.

In particular, the method Linus proposes to recompile a new kernel in the home directory without ever having to change a symlink...why isn't that possible in Gentoo? And what makes it a bad practice in Gentoo, but a good practice in non-source based distros?

Since the re-emerge commands might well demand that such source files are present to recompile various upgrades, I can imagine why source based Gentoo might still require such a standard. But if so, then shouldn't some advocate of source based distros be pointing this out where ever this argument is made?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darth Marley wrote:
Sure, a different way of doing the same thing.

But my question is, since no less an authority than Linus is saying this is a bad practice, and is only necessary because of bad programming practices, then what in Gentoo still makes it necessary, and why is it still being done the "old" way?

The discussion of the subject seems to indicate that there are preferred alternatives to any past methods of reading kernel headers from that link.


Sure, but since of critical pieces (drivers) depends on that symlink, and it really doesn't hurt that much, it is still a convenient workaround.

Quote:

If there is a particular reason that a "source based" distribution would still have a pressing need for this while other distros would not, great, what is the explanation for that? Such an explanation should be presented when other lists and fora make these claims.

In particular, the method Linus proposes to recompile a new kernel in the home directory without ever having to change a symlink...why isn't that possible in Gentoo? And what makes it a bad practice in Gentoo, but a good practice in non-source based distros?


Because a source distro needs to be compiled, and the rest of distros doesn't. So, they don't care at all about that symlink, in fact, they don't usually need to install the linux kernel sources at all.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darth Marley wrote:
shouldn't some advocate of source based distros be pointing this out where ever this argument is made?

Such people, who are knowledgeable, are rare, I think. People who like to spread FUD are commonplace.

You mentioned Arch Linux. Try recompiling the Arch Linux kernel, as it is supplied. It failed for me (headers missing, I think, it was several weeks ago). So I downloaded the vanilla kernel into /usr/src/linux and did it all manually. The point being, whatever Arch Linux does, seems incomplete for what a source-based distro would need.

To be a fair comparison, the binary-only distro needs to install everything that you need to recompile the kernel.

And yes, it would be preferable to compile the kernel as a non-root user.

I'm still not really seeing the difference between kernel-headers and "libc-headers". :(

The articles linked to are dated 2000 and 2001 - could well be hopelessly out-of-date :?:
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So then, the answer to the original post would be; the symlink is required in Gentoo because in many (or most) cases everything is compiled from source, which is not true in most other distributions.
Right?

In many of the articles making claims that this practice is outdated, the idea of mixing sources from different kernel versions is mentioned. It seems that if one were to make a "roll your own" kernel source, then to get the benefit of emerge being able to recompile all installed packages with a changed USE flag (for example), one would still need to have the symlink pointing to a modified source library in order for it to really work, or risk something being broken or a compile being linked to a wrong header.
Is this a correct understanding of how the Gentoo ebuilds work?
Even if the need for kernel headers may be rare?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darth Marley wrote:
So then, the answer to the original post would be; the symlink is required in Gentoo because in many (or most) cases everything is compiled from source, which is not true in most other distributions.
Right?

In many of the articles making claims that this practice is outdated, the idea of mixing sources from different kernel versions is mentioned. It seems that if one were to make a "roll your own" kernel source, then to get the benefit of emerge being able to recompile all installed packages with a changed USE flag (for example), one would still need to have the symlink pointing to a modified source library in order for it to really work, or risk something being broken or a compile being linked to a wrong header.
Is this a correct understanding of how the Gentoo ebuilds work?
Even if the need for kernel headers may be rare?


The kernel sources are only required to compile a few modules outside the kernel tree. For example, nvidia-drivers, ati-drivers, alsa-drivers, svgalib... and some network/usb/v4l drivers that are in portage as separate packages. Not much more packages need those headers. The rest of regular packages use linux-headers, which are installed into /usr/include, and are global to the system. So, due to the way that gentoo handles the thing, there is no problem having that symlink there, other than having to recompile the external modules by hand each time you change that symlink (so they are in sync with the current kernel).

No regular program is going to break because of you changing this symlink. Usespace programs don't care at all about what you do regarding that link.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So if one did not ever compile modules, but instead put every needed driver in the kernel, the symlink is unnecessary?

I am not looking at it as if it is a "problem" to have it, but rather looking at it from the point of view "What is the problem with making the practice unnecessary in the first place."

So I am looking at it from the other end. Not thinking "it is not a big deal" but asking "why do things this way?"

If so few packages require it, what stops those packages from being modified to no longer require that link?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darth Marley wrote:
So if one did not ever compile modules, but instead put every needed driver in the kernel, the symlink is unnecessary?

I am not looking at it as if it is a "problem" to have it, but rather looking at it from the point of view "What is the problem with making the practice unnecessary in the first place."


Probably, there could be some obscure old packages that interact with the kernel in the portage tree that would also need the kernel tree to compile, or some hack to compile without it... One problem could be that a big portion of the software that would require modification, doesn't have a GPL compatible license. It's not only about drivers... For example, virtualizators like qemu, vmware and xen might depend on the kernel sources to compile (I only use qemu, so, if anyone can provide more info about the issue, it would be cool).

The same goes for the nvidia and ati stuff, and probably many of the net drivers around. The hsf modem drivers comes to my mind right now, cause I used them in the past, but there are tons more for sure. The thing is that it doesn't harm the way it is now, and it would require work to do it any other way, I suppose.

I know you said:

Quote:
So I am looking at it from the other end. Not thinking "it is not a big deal" but asking "why do things this way?"

If so few packages require it, what stops those packages from being modified to no longer require that link?


But the two sides are not independent. The fact that a huge amount of work would need to be done to change such an apparently trivial thing, is a reason to hold the devs back from doing so, when it just works without any flaw at its current state in Gentoo (other distros are a different story). So, while it works at its current status, and it is not a really big deal, I couldn't care less about what Linus thinks (he's not infallible either).

The only thing that really bothers me, is having to compile it as root, but that is easily sorted by just adjusting the symlink to a local copy of the kernel in your home or whereever.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulBredbury wrote:

Such people, who are knowledgeable, are rare, I think. People who like to spread FUD are commonplace.

You mentioned Arch Linux. Try recompiling the Arch Linux kernel, as it is supplied. It failed for me (headers missing, I think, it was several weeks ago). So I downloaded the vanilla kernel into /usr/src/linux and did it all manually. The point being, whatever Arch Linux does, seems incomplete for what a source-based distro would need.

To be a fair comparison, the binary-only distro needs to install everything that you need to recompile the kernel.

And yes, it would be preferable to compile the kernel as a non-root user.

I'm still not really seeing the difference between kernel-headers and "libc-headers". :(

The articles linked to are dated 2000 and 2001 - could well be hopelessly out-of-date :?:


take CRUX then, it is source based distro. everyhting will be compiled from sources. right now i am using CRUX, installed it some days ago, and ALSA from kernel had some problems with my VIA sound card. so this is what i did :

# cd /usr/src
# rm -rv linux-26.20.3 (the default kernel of CRUX 2.3, no symlink to "linux" here)

then i downloaded the kernel 2.6.20.11 from www.kernel.org using wget ;-) and put it in "/usr/src/" and just recompiled the kernel. copied the kernel Imgae and system map and reboot and ALSA running. (nearly same as Gentoo, except you use wget/ftp/firefox rather than "emerge gentoo-sources")

what i am saying is, it is source based distro and it has no symlink concept. there must be some reason, after all, most distros use the same drivers.

(never tried SOURCEMAGE or Lunar, 2 other source based distros, so can not say about them. BTW, i don't like Arch, i tried its last 2 releases. it is an unstable distro, may be , because of its bleedinig edge philosophy)
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6thpink wrote:

Because a source distro needs to be compiled, and the rest of distros doesn't. So, they don't care at all about that symlink, in fact, they don't usually need to install the linux kernel sources at all.


CRUX *is* the source based distro. you can't install it without manual partitioning of hard-disk and compiling the kernel. you are just forced to compile the kernel yourself, no "genkernel" here , though it gives some basic packages like X, cron, syslog, vi,nano as binaries on its bootable CD.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulBredbury wrote:


You mentioned Arch Linux. Try recompiling the Arch Linux kernel, as it is supplied. It failed for me (headers missing, I think, it was several weeks ago).


and i thought i was the only one who faced this....

PaulBredbury wrote:

I'm still not really seeing the difference between kernel-headers and "libc-headers". :(


and again i thought, i was the only one who did not understand that ;-)
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the point Linus was making that when you change the symlink to the "kernel du jour" that by itself might break compiles that depended on the old source. You change you kernel, update the symlink, and suddenly your next global recompile breaks those programs that expected the symlink to point to the old kernel headers.
Linus may not be infallible, but is he really wrong about this? Rather than accept or reject the claim on the basis of his authority, it should be examined on its merits. Does his argument hold to be true?

In such cases, packages would need to be changed anyway (or it leave the user with the intolerable option of just using an old kernel because the developer/maintainer doesn't want to do things in a way that doesn't break with kernel updates).

Is this really an outdated practice that invites future bugs?
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darth Marley wrote:
I think the point Linus was making that when you change the symlink to the "kernel du jour" that by itself might break compiles that depended on the old source. You change you kernel, update the symlink, and suddenly your next global recompile breaks those programs that expected the symlink to point to the old kernel headers.
Linus may not be infallible, but is he really wrong about this? Rather than accept or reject the claim on the basis of his authority, it should be examined on its merits. Does his argument hold to be true?


Yes, and no.

It all depends. Gentoo installs the userland headers separately. And the kernel ones are only use for those things that really need them. While Linus point is generally correct, it is also true that the alternative policy taken by Gentoo seems to work without problems until now.

The global recompile will not break anything, because each kernel hast its own modules into a separate dir into /lib/modules, so, if you recompile with a newer symlink, it will just affect that kernel.

I don't really know if this is an invitation to future problems. But my experience with gentoo just tells me it works (in gentoo).
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6thpink wrote:


Yes, and no.

It all depends. Gentoo installs the userland headers separately. And the kernel ones are only use for those things that really need them. While Linus point is generally correct, it is also true that the alternative policy taken by Gentoo seems to work without problems until now.

The global recompile will not break anything, because each kernel hast its own modules into a separate dir into /lib/modules, so, if you recompile with a newer symlink, it will just affect that kernel.

I don't really know if this is an invitation to future problems. But my experience with gentoo just tells me it works (in gentoo).


me > how about getting a the latest stable kernel from here: http://www.kernel.org/
me > , makeing a symbolic link of its source to "/usr/src/linux" and then
me > compile it on CRUX 2.3 ?

LONG answer > http://lists.crux.nu/pipermail/crux/2007-May/007472.html

SHORT answer > That symbolic link is a relic, and usually rather making things worse
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only true fact, today, is that you can't compile everything unless you have that symlink and you have it pointing to the correct target.

It might be obsolete. But is works. Again, in Gentoo, not CRUX.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting. I see there is my next distro out there: I try crux 8)

Cool thread 8)
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linus != Gentoo

IIRC, Linus develops on Macs (running Linux, of course). He has no "outside" modules that need to be compiled against the kernel headers. Thus his kernel source tree can be anywhere because for him the kernel is entirely self contained.

The "broken" use of /usr/src/linux that he is referring to is userland apps trying to use the kernel headers. He is right that this is totally broken behavior. Gentoo does not do this. In Gentoo, userland apps use /usr/include (I think) but they certainly don't use anything from /usr/src/linux. The symlink on Gentoo systems allows external kernel modules to be compiled and put in the right place. Kernel modules need to use the proper kernel headers. There is universal agreement on this. The /usr/src/linux symlink gives a simple way of directing external modules to the right header files. But it is also used to place external modules in the proper tree under /lib/modules. For every Linux source directory under /usr/src there is a corresponding directory under /lib/modules.

Linus is a great engineer. He is very focused on the task before him. This sometimes prevents him from viewing things from a broader perspective. In his world there are no outside kernel modules and thus no need for anything outside of the kernel to know where the kernel is or which versions is being built to. In this world, the /usr/src/linux symlink is a mistake because the only thing that would use it are userland programs that shouldn't be using the kernel headers.

As I said before. Gentoo does not fall into this trap, but it does have external modules that need access to the kernel headers and need to know which /iib/modules tree the modules should be placed in. The /usr/src/linux symlink solves both of these problems very neatly. If we didn't have it then we would need to store exactly the same information in a less direct and compact manner.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some clarifications:
a) Linus doesn't claim that using /usr/src/linux is a bad idea, he is referring to the /usr/include/asm link pointing to the /usr/src/linux kernel tree as a broken thing as version specific kernel headers would end up in the default include path. The later statement "NOT do so in /usr/src. Leave whatever kernel (probably only the header files) that the distribution came with there, but don't touch it." is simply to avoid problems caused by an existing /usr/include/asm link, which doesn't exist these days so the statement doesn't hold. People keep saying that "Linus said that /usr/src/linux is bad" simply because they don't really understand the issue of that specific post.
b) We could have used something else than /usr/src/linux to determine the kernel to use for building modules, but what's the point? For kernel modules there has to be a pre-defined location for the kernel source.
c) When you don't use any kernel related ebuilds (other than linux-headers) and compile the kernel manually then you shouldn't have a /usr/src/linux symlink (unless you manually put it there)
d) This hasn't much to do with source-based vs. binary distros, only with source-based distros it's more visible (as binary distros usually don't install kernel sources by default)
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Genome, I respectfully disagree with you. In that same post Linus said:
Quote:
My /usr/src/linux still has the old 2.2.13 header files, even though I haven't run a 2.2.13 kernel in a loong time. But those headers were what glibc was compiled against, so those headers are what matches the library object files.

From this I concluded that Linus does not use /usr/src/linux to point to the current kernel header files as we do in Gentoo. He also suggests that people who compile their own kernels:
Quote:
not have a single symbolic link in sight (except the one that the kernel build itself sets up, namely the "linux/include/asm" symlink that is only used for the internal kernel compile itself).

The three paragraphs at the bottom of his post all seem to be about /usr/src/linux not /usr/include/asm. For example he says:
Quote:
Pretty much every distribution still has that broken symlink, and people still remember that the linux sources should go into "/usr/src/linux", even though that hasn't been true in a loong time.

It seems to me that he thinks both symlinks are broken.

I think Gentoo does it right. For us, the /usr/src/linux symlink is used to point to the kernel headers and the glibc headers are handled elsewhere. Linus uses /usr/src/linux to point the glibc headers and he keeps his kernel headers in a purposefully non-standard location so no programs external to the kernel have automated access to them.

The core issue is keeping the kernel headers separate from the glibc headers. Linus does this by using /usr/src/linux to point to the glibc headers and keeping his kernel headers hidden. Gentoo keeps them separate by using /usr/src/linux to point to the kernel headers and keeping the glibc headers out of /usr/src entirely. Gentoo fixed the core problem by keeping glibc out of /usr/src. This then allowed us to use /usr/src/linux exclusively for the kernel which makes perfect sense.
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BitJam wrote:

I think Gentoo does it right. For us, the /usr/src/linux symlink is used to point to the kernel headers and the glibc headers are handled elsewhere. Linus uses /usr/src/linux to point the glibc headers and he keeps his kernel headers in a purposefully non-standard location so no programs external to the kernel have automated access to them.

The core issue is keeping the kernel headers separate from the glibc headers. Linus does this by using /usr/src/linux to point to the glibc headers and keeping his kernel headers hidden. Gentoo keeps them separate by using /usr/src/linux to point to the kernel headers and keeping the glibc headers out of /usr/src entirely. Gentoo fixed the core problem by keeping glibc out of /usr/src. This then allowed us to use /usr/src/linux exclusively for the kernel which makes perfect sense.



great post BitJam. based on What you said, it is pretty clear that Gentoo does not have "broken/older implementation" of kernel and glibc. Hence, Gentoo is doing right, i think now i am fan of you :-)

BTW, where does Gentoo keep libc headers ?
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