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Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2017 10:28:21 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH] powerpc64le: Add single instruction math functions

On Sat, Jun 24, 2017 at 11:24:59PM -0400, David Edelsohn wrote:
> > Except those based on musl?  I mean, we at Adélie haven't /shipped/
> > anything PPC64 yet, but I have very good reasons for that (and will
> > get to them later in this email).
> Because the PowerPC software ecosystem is based on and designed to
> those assumptions.  All of the JITs are based on that.  All of the
> optimized libraries are based on that.  All of the hand-written
> assembly code is based on that.
> Some test ABI and endianness separately, some don't.  It definitely is
> less well tested, if at all.
> You can do whatever you want, but it has been difficult enough fixing
> all of the poor assumptions in the entire Open Source and proprietary
> source ecosystem for the change to PPC64LE ELFv2.  If you and Adelie
> want to take on that challenge for PPC64BE ELFv2, great.  The
> OpenPower Foundation and its members are not going to fight that
> battle.

I see where you're coming from, but I don't see where it's
significantly harder than fighting with and fixing software that
doesn't work with musl due to gratuitous (or sometimes moderately
reasonable) glibcisms. Having this type of ABI issue increases the
number of such cases a bit, but I don't expect it to be a significant
portion of the overall work.

> > I apologise if my words seem strong, but I do not take this lightly.
> > We have a number of users clamouring for us to save their older PPC64
> > hardware from unmaintained AIX, unmaintained Debian, or in some cases
> > ten-or-more year old fruity OSes.  I obviously do not expect ABI
> > compatibility with decades-old non-Linux Unixes.  However, if there
> > needs to be an ELFv1 port for a technical reason, I may have to
> > investigate maintaining the port myself.
> As I wrote above, the entire external ecosystem makes the endianness /
> ABI assumption.  Golang assumes this.  OpenJDK assumes this.  ATLAS
> BLAS and OpenBLAS assume this.  GMP assumes this.  PyPy assumes this.
> Mono assumes this. libffi assumes this. Erlang probably assumes this.
> FFMPEG, x264, libvpx assume this.  MongoDB may assume this. NVIDIA
> nvcc assumes this.  Etc., etc., etc.

Several of these are trivially fixed with --disable-asm or similar --
at least gmp, ffmpeg, x264, and libvpx should fall in that category.
Obviously it's desirable to get the asm working to improve
performance, but it can be done incrementally. It also should be
possible to heuristically test for this kind of thing by grepping for
ppc64 asm function prologue in the sources.

Only stuff that actually does codegen (compilers, jits, etc.) has a
fundamental reason to be affected, and for the most part fixing it
should just be a matter of fixing the conditionals that look for
endianness to look for _CALL_ELF==2 where that's what they really
meant to do.

> It's not that the packages fundamentally cannot be fixed, but the
> FLOSS ecosystem is much larger, richer, complex and more
> interdependent.  If one wants to create an embedded system, one can
> exert control over the entire software ecosystem.  For a
> Linux-compatible system, one cannot.
> If you accept that some parts of the software ecosystem simply won't
> build or function correctly for your system and configuration, or some
> packages randomly will stop building or stop functioning correctly
> after a package is updated, fine.

These are already risks inherent in using a musl-based system with
upstream packages that are developed on glibc and don't pay attention
to portability issues. We have a very good history of the distros
using musl making efforts to patch these kinds of things, send patchs
upstream, and educate upstreams without attacking or patronizing them.
Sometimes upstream regressions happen, but adequate testing should
catch them.


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