[syslinux] Status of syslinux git master

Ady Ady ady-sf at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 7 14:13:56 PDT 2019

> it looks like the syslinux master branch is broken since February [1].
> Peter created the wip.makefixes branch but I wasn't able to get it
> working (yet) and it lacks activity since March.
Since you are mentioning it in your email, I would like to bring up a 
complication of merging almost anything from the "wip.makefixes" branch 
onto the master branch.

One of the things that Peter performed in the "wip.makefixes" branch 
was to move around a lot of files. This "shuffling" has a very 
important negative consequence, at least at this time. Considering the 
lack of active development of the last few years, most Linux 
distributions have been picking up patches and workarounds in order to 
(barely) "maintain" their Syslinux-related packages. In more than a few 
cases, those patches and workarounds are not provided by upstream 
Syslinux nor included in the official upstream repositories. Using this 
"method", Linux distros are (currently) using very different versions 
of Syslinux, from 4.04 onward.

"Shuffling around" files in current git master would imply that prior 
patches and workarounds that have been ignored by upstream Syslinux 
while embraced by downstream package maintainers would be much harder 
to apply in different distros/packages in the future. Moreover, if at 
some point someone would decide to pick up Syslinux's development, 
proposed patches that are still "awaiting" for some reaction from 
upstream Syslinux would be useless after this massive "shuffling" of 
files. To be clear, there are more-than-just-a-few of those 
previously-ignored proposed patches.

One additional negative aspect of this massive "shuffling" of files is 
documentation. For some time now, I've been updating documents in the 
wiki, including paths that are mentioned, even in the wikified official 
documents. It would be very inconvenient and confusing, for users and 
package maintainers alike, to have paths being relevant "from 5.00 to 
6.04-pre1" while other, different paths would be relevant "from 

Moving around files in such way also complicates things when trying to 
track down specific changes, especially when searching for bugs that 
were introduced in the code before such shuffling.

If development of Syslinux had been much more active, someone could 
claim that this massive "shuffling" of files is necessary in order to 
keep the code clean and continue with development of features (and 
solving bugs). But in such hypothetical case, Syslinux would be at a 
"higher" version number by now, and "active and continuous development" 
(together with a "higher" version number) would introduce more "sense" 
in the reasoning for this massive shuffling of files. I claim that we 
should be more realistic, and there is no sign of "active and 
continuous development" in the near future for Syslinux.

I do have comments regarding the current status of git master (which is 
either FTBFS or the resulting binaries are not working as expected), 
but I'd rather leave them for some future email.

I very much hope (and even "beg") that the massive "shuffling" of files 
that is currently seen in the "wip.makefixes" branch is _not_ merged 
onto the master branch. I think that the negative consequences are much 
greater than the potential benefits at this time.

Thank you and Best Regards,

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