Subject: Re: Back to business [was: the Be thread]
From: Crispin Cowan <>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 06:08:35 +0000

"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

> >>>>> "DJ" == DJ Delorie <> writes:
>     DJ> Is there any way to create a value-add for free software
>     DJ> that's scalable and self-sustaining?  Otherwise, growth is
>     DJ> linear vs the resources available.
> Good question.  GCC and the Linux kernel are crucial test cases, I
> think.  They _have_ scaled and are self-sustaining.  (I don't see a
> reason to question that.)  However, they are well past the stage where
> Joe Random Hacker can contribute much, I suspect; can the process
> generate superlinear growth when the required personal investment in
> compiler-writing or kernel-hacking skills starts to become large?

The kernel is much easier to contribute to than GCC.  The kernel is, in some
sense, a very large library of components, with a consistent (syscall)
interface and shared set of resources.  The rules one must follow to play in
the kernel are relatively simple.

To contribute to GCC, you have to grok a great deal of abstraction and
detail.  It takes a lot of spin-up time to develop a working compiler patch.

These comments come from experience.  My team has done both:

Relative novices can hack things into the kernel without breaking things.  It
took major effort to hack into the old gcc (2.7.*) and even more effort to
hack into EGCS (gcc 2.9.* & greater).

Crispin Cowan, CTO, WireX Communications, Inc.
Free Hardened Linux Distribution: