[LLVMdev] Open Source Contributions (was Re: Benchmarks)

Reid Spencer reid at x10sys.com
Sat May 1 20:04:00 PDT 2004

On Fri, 2004-04-30 at 10:57, Chris Lattner wrote:
> There is a chance, but as Vikram mentioned, it's not extremely likely to
> happen in the immediate future.  However, if you or someone else wrote the
> makefiles neccesary to the suite to the llvm/test/Programs hierarchy, we
> would be happy to add them and have our automated testers run them.  :)
> In particular, I'd really like to try to foster some more community
> involvement in all aspects of LLVM, including coding, porting, testing,
> documentation, performance tweaking, ...  Our group obviously has a lot
> invested in LLVM and we will continue doing lots of interesting things,
> but unfortunately we do have limited people-bandwidth.  If you *really*
> want something done (like any open source project), the best way is to do
> it yourself of convince someone to do it for you.
> I'm not try to complain here: we have had a number of high-quality
> contributions from several different people, I just wanted to point out
> that asking us to do something isn't the only way to get it done.  :-)
> -Chris

I'd be happy to contribute more and in fact, there are lots of things I
could and would contribute. Pretty much the only thing that stops me  is
the project's CVS policy. Submitting patches is fine for smaller tasks
(single file bug fixes etc.) but larger tasks (like adding a whole test
suite) really need CVS write access to be done efficiently and

Perhaps its just me, but I don't have time to dicker with patch
creation, wait for individual files to be added, processing emails that
let me know when things have been added, wait for further responses on
modifications, etc.  I have a full-time job, a full-time family, and a
full-time second career (erm, perhaps I'm just over-booked? :)  I need
some efficiency if I'm to do anything. From my perspective, the process
is _way_ more efficient if I can just create a branch, do what I need to
do and then tell you "look at branch xyz and merge if you like it". Its
possible with CVS to restrict access to main line commits to certain
users so you can still maintain control of the main development trend.
Furthermore, providing CVS access should reduce your administrative
burden. Instead of patching a pile of individual files, you can simply
look at the changes introduced by a branch and decide if its something
you want to keep or inform the branch author of the things that need to
be modified. You can also set the "gold standard" for contributions to
make sure that (a) branches are maintained with the mainline by the
author (thereby reducing mainline conflicts on merge), (b) the software
on the branch must build correctly, (c) the branch software must be well
integrated into the build system, (d) the branch software must not break
any existing tests, (e) etc., etc.  

I understand the University has certain legal restrictions about
granting access to non-student and non-faculty users. That may be the
trump card that prevents wider use of CVS by contributors to LLVM. If
that is the case, I would suggest that (a) the project simply accept
that contributions from others will be minimal or (b) move the CVS
repository somewhere that doesn't have the University's restrictions.
That last option, however, may have additional intellectual property
While it would be unwise to freely grant write access to the CVS
repository to anyone that asked for it, you might want to think about
some qualifications necessary to allow that to happen in a controlled
fashion.  I for one don't have any problems being asked to qualify for
CVS write access. If such access were available to serious and capable
contributors, I believe you'd get a lot more contributions (as I've seen
on other projects).  Furthermore, the contributions are generally of a
higher quality because the technical requirements go up. Its something
of a self-sorting process.

Ultimately the decision is yours. LLVM is still great either way. :)

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