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January 30, 2015

Work ate this week dealing with kernel stuff (adding icache flushing support to a nommu system), and now I'm back poking at toybox trying to remember where I left off. According to (hg diff | grep +++ | wc) I've got differences in 20 files, and that's _after_ moving some of the longstanding stuff like grep -ABC or the half-finished dd rewrite (the bits that broke a "defconfig" build for me) to patches...

But I'd like to ship both sed and aboriginal releases this weekend, and now that sed is in the next aboriginal linux todo item is expr. And expr is weird. Testing the host version:

$ expr +1
+1
$ expr -1
-1
$ expr 1-
1-
$ expr 1+
1+
$ expr 1 +
expr: syntax error
$ expr + 1
1
$ expr - 1
expr: syntax error
$ expr 1 -
expr: syntax error

So now I'm staring at the posix spec to try to figure out what portion of this nonsense is required by the spec, and what portion is implementation weirdness. (I think +1 is being treated as a string, -1 being treated as an integer, but I have no idea why nothing + 1 is allowed but nothing minus 1 isn't? (Maybe the first becomes "" + "1", but there's no minus behavior for integers? Maybe?)


January 27, 2015

One of my four talk proposals got accepted at CELF. Unsurprisingly, they went with "What's new in toybox". (Not the rise and fall of copyleft.)

I'd link specifically to this year's page, but this is the Linux Foundation. They never archive old stuff, it's all about squeezing sponsorship money out of thing du jour and moving on to the next revenue garnering opportunity while history vanishes. Sigh. Oh well. At least the free electrons people record and archive stuff.


January 26, 2015

Okaaaaay....

The ancient and decrepit version of Bash I've been using in Aboriginal linux, 2.05b, doesn't understand "set -o pipefail". It doesn't have the "jobs" command. And it doesn't build toybox.

I was lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that aboriginal uses an "airlock step" where it populates build/host with busybox and so on, and then restricts $PATH to point to just that directory for the rest of the build. So the system should rebuild under itself since it initially built with the same set of tools

The exception to this is stuff called at an absolute path, namely any #!/script/interpreter because the kernel doesn't search $PATH when it runs those so they need an absolute path. (The dynamic library loader for shared libraries works the same way.)

I think this old version of bash _should_ have pipefail and jobs, but apparently the way I'm building it they're not switching on in the config. I don't know why.

Of course I tried a quick fix of switching to #!/bin/ash to see if the various rumors I've been hearing about busybox's shell being upgraded actually meant something, and got 'scripts/make.sh: line 79: syntax error: unexpected "("' which is ash not understanding <(command) redirects. Of course.

I may have to do toysh sooner than I expected. This is not cool.

(Yes, I could upgrade to the last GPLv2 release of bash, but that's not the point. I plan to replace it eventually, upgrading it wouldn't be a step forward.)


January 22, 2015

Working on switching Aboriginal so simple-root-filesystem lives in initramfs unconditionally. Have native-compiler.sqf live on /dev/hda and splice them together at runtime instead of in root-filesystem.sh. Use initmpfs for initramfs, and have a config knob for whether the initramfs lives in vmlinux or in a separate cpio (SYSIMAGE_TYPE=rootfs or cpio). This probably means that simple-root-filesystem needs to be unconditionally statically linked, otherwise the "delete old /lib contents and replace with new lib" gets tricky. (No, you don't want to bind mount it because the squashfs is read-only so you can't add more, you want symlinks from writable lib into the squashfs.)

All this means run-emulator.sh just gives you a shell prompt, without native toolchain, so move the qemu -hda argument to dev-environment.sh.

While I'm making stuff unconditional: drop NO_ROOTDIRS, it's fiddly and unnecessary. (The idea was to create an LFS /tools style layout, but lfs-bootstrap.hdc doesn't use it.)

Leftover issue: more/chroot-splice.sh needs a combined filesystem and root-filesystem.sh isn't doing it anymore...


January 16, 2015

By the way, these are the busybox calls left in the basic Aboriginal Linux build:

    2 busybox gzip
    4 busybox dd
   11 busybox bzip2
   28 busybox tar
  121 busybox diff
  215 busybox awk
  275 busybox sh
 1623 busybox tr
 2375 busybox expr
21692 busybox sed

And I'm almost done with toybox sed.

The development category has more commands than that, the Linux From Scratch build and general command line stuff switches on another 20 commands (bunzip2 fdisk ftpd ftpget ftpput gunzip less man pgrep ping pkill ps route sha512sum test unxz vi wget xzcat zcat) but none of that is actually used by aboriginal linux itself. So, approaching a milestone...


January 15, 2015

Linux Weekly News covered Toybox's addition to Android, (Ok, I emailed them a poke and a couple links but they decided it was newsworthy and tracked down several more links than I sent them.)

Meanwhile it keeps showing up in contexts that surprise me, such as openembedded.

Heh. Grinding away at the todo list...


January 11, 2015

Finished cleaning up printf.c, back to the sed bugs. Felix Janda pointed out that posix allows you to "split a line" by escaping an end of line in the s/// replacement text. So this _is_ probably local to the 's' command the way the other one was local to 'a', and I don't need to redo the whole input path.

Which is good, because redoing the input path to generically handle this ran into the problem that it _is_ context-specific. If "a\" and just "a" could no longer be distinguished because input processing had already removed the escape, that conflicts with how the gnu/dammit extensions for single line a are supposed to behave. Or that "echo hello | sed -e 'w abc\' -e 'p'" is apparently supposed to write a file ending in a backslash, and then print an extra copy of the line.

(This is all fiddly. You wind up going down ratholes wondering how "sed -e "$(printf "a\\\n")"" should behave, and decide the backslash is _not_ the last thing on the line because the input blocking put the newline into the line, and in that context it's as if it was read in by N and becomes significant... I think?)


January 8, 2015

So my big laptop (now dubbed "halfbrick") is reinstalled with 14.04, which has all sorts of breakage (the screensaver disable checkboxes still don't work coming up on a year after release, you have to track down and delete the binary), but I used that at Pace and at least found out how to kill the stupid Windows-style menus with fire and so on.

Last night, I started it downloading the Android Open Source Project.

And downloading.

And downloading.

This morning I found out "repo sync" had given up after downloading 13 gigabytes, and ran it again. It's resumed downloading.

And downloading...


January 7, 2015

Now that toybox is merged into android, I really need to set up an android build environment to test it in that context (built against bionic, etc).

The software on my system76 laptop has been stuck on Ubuntu 13.04 since the upgrade servers went away. (I thought I could upgrade versions after that point, but apparently no.) This has prevented me from poking at the Android Open Source Project, because building that needs packages I haven't got installed (can't install more without the upgrade servers), and my poor little netbook hasn't got the disk spacei, let alone CPU or memory to build it in less than a week.

I've held off upgrading because it's also my email machine, but finally got to the point where I need to deal with this. (Meant to over the holidays, didn't make it that far down my todo list.)

The fiddly bit was clearing enough space off my USB backup disk to store an extra half-terabyte of data. (Yes, I filled up a 1.5 terabyte disk.) then leaving it saving overnight, and now it's installing.

The ubuntu "usb-cd-creator" is incredibly brittle, by the way. I have a 10 gigabyte "hda.img" in the ~/Downloads directory, and it finds that when it launches and lists that as the default image it's going to put on the USB key (but does _not_ find the xubuntu-14.04.iso file), insists that it won't fit, and doesn't clear this "will not fit" status even if I point it at the ISO and select that instead. So, delete the hda.img so it won't find it, and then I hit the fact that the "format this disk" button prompts you for a password and includes the time you spend typing the password in the timeout for the "format failed" pop-up window. I.E. the pop-up will pop up WHILE YOU ARE TYPING THE PASSWORD.

This is not a full list of the bugs I hit in that thing, just the two most memorably stupid.


January 6, 2015

The printf work I've done turns out to have broken all sorts of stuff because the regression tests I was running were invalid, because printf is a bash builtin! Which means the tests/printf.test submitted to toybox last year is not actually testing toybox printf: it doesn't matter what printf is in the $PATH, the bulitin gets called first.

(Is there a way to disable unnecessary bash builtins? Other than calling the binary by path each time...)

I keep hitting funky bugs in gnu commands while testing their behavior to see what toybox should do. The most recent example:

$ printf "abc%bdef\n" "ghi%sjkl\n" "hello\n"
abcghi%sjkl
def
abchello
def

What I was trying to test was "does the %b extension, which isn't in posix, interpret %escapes as well as \escapes?" And the answer seems to be: sort of. Only, badly.

I'm not entirely sure what this bug _is_. But it's not in the printf the man page is about, it's in the printf you get from "man bash" and then forward slash searching for printf. :)

(Well, ok, /usr/bin/pritnf produces the same output. But probably shouldn't, and I don't think I'm implementing that strangeness in toybox.)


January 4, 2015

Finally fixed that sed bug I was head scratching over so long: it was that I need to parse escapes in square brakets, ala [^ \t], because the regex engine isn't doing it for me. (It's treating it as literal \, literal t.)

Now on to the NEXT sed bug, which is that you can have line continuations in the regex part of a s/// command. (Not so much "bug" as "why would anyone do that? That's supported?"

In theory, this means that instead of doing line continuations for specific commands, I should back up and have a generic "if this line ends with \, read the next line in". (Except it's actually if this line ends with an odd number of \ because \\ is a literal \.)

The problem is, the "a" command is crazy. Specifically, here are some behavioral differences to make you go "huh":

$ echo hello | sed -e a -e boom
sed: -e expression #1, char 1: expected \ after `a', `c' or `i'
$ echo hello | sed -e "$(printf 'a\nboom')"
sed: can't find label for jump to `oom'

In the first instance, merely providing a second line doesn't allow the 'a' command to grab it, the lines need to be connected and fed in as a single line separated by a newline. but in the second instance, when we _do_ that, the gnu/dammit implementation decides that the a command is appending a blank line (gnu extension: you can provide data on the same line). (Busybox treats both cases like the second one.)

I suppose the trick is distinguishing 'echo hello | sed -e "a hello" "p"' from 'echo hello | sed -e "a hello\" "p"'. In the first case, the p is a print command. in the second, it's a multiline continuation of a.

And the thing is I can't do it entirely by block aggregation because 'echo hello sed -e "$(printf "a hello\np")"' is a potential input. (The inside of $() has its on quoting context, so the quotes around the printf don't end the quotes around the $(). Yeah, non-obvious. One more thing to get right for toysh. The _fun_ part is since 'blah "$(printf 'boom')"' isn't actually _evaluating_ the $() during the parse ($STUFF is evaluated in "context" but not in 'context'), then the single quotes around boom _would_ end and restart the exterior single quote context, meaning both the single quotes would drop out of the printf argument and the stuff between them wouldn't be quoted at all if you were assigning that string to an environment variable or passing it as an argument or some such. Quoting: tricksy!)

Anyway, what it looks like I have to do is retain the trailing \ at the end of the line. I have to parse it to see if I need to read/append more data, but then I leave it there so later callers can parse it _again_ and distinguish multiline continuations.

Sigh. It's nice when code can get _simpler_ after a round or two of careful analysis. So far, this isn't one of those times, but maybe something will crop up during implementation...


January 1, 2015

So the kernel developers added perl to the x86 build again, and of course I patched it back out again. Amazingly, and despite this being an x86-only problem, it _wasn't_ Peter Anvin this time. It was somebody I'd never heard of on the other side of the planet, and it went in through Thomas Gleixner who should know better.

The fact my patch replaces 39 lines of perl with 4 lines of shell script (and since the while shell script fits in the makefile in place of the call to the perl script it only adds _2_ lines to the makefile) is par for the course. I could clearly push this upstream as another build simplification.

But I haven't done so yet, because I really don't want to get linux-kernel on me anymore. It's no fun. I'm fighting the same battles over and over.

There are a bunch of patches I should write extending initmpfs. It should parse the existing "rootflags=" argument (in Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt) because size=80% is interesting to set (the default is 50%, the "of available memory" is implicit). I should push a patch to the docs so the various people going "I specified a root= and didn't get rootfs as tempfs because that explicitly tells it not to do that" have somewhere I can point them other than the patch that added that to go "yeah, you don't understand what root= means". I should push a patch so CONFIG_DEVTMPFS_MOUNT works for initmpfs (the patch is trivial, grep -w dev init/noinitramfs.c shows a sys_mkdir("/dev") and sys_mknod("/dev/console") and do_mounts_initrd.c has a sys_mount() example too, this is like 20 minutes to do and test.

But... It's zero fun to deal with those guys anymore. It's just not. The Linux Foundation has succeeded in driving away hobbyists and making Linux developent entirely corporate. The "publish or perish" part of open source is still there, just like in academia. But I'm not hugely interested in navigating academic political bureaucracy for a tenure-track position, either.

Sigh. I wrote a series of articles about this a decade ago. The hobbyists move on, handing off to the 9 to 5 employees, who hand off to the bureaucrats. I'm not _surprised_. I'm just... I need to find a new frontier that doesn't involve filling out certification forms and collecting signatures to navigate a process.


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