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Rakudo Star, Red Queen Edition

by chromatic (Archbishop)
on Jan 23, 2012 at 23:46 UTC ( #949550=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^2: 1,000 git commits is not "almost comes to a halt" (was Hockey Sticks)
in thread Hockey Sticks

In an earlier post, you wrote:

The original plan was for Star releases (they refer to these as "distributions") to be on a quarterly release schedule in 2011. They did Jan, a couple of April variants, and July. The next was scheduled for October. By December, jnthn concluded he needed to go ahead with a Star release ... and now has a Star release nearly ready.

Let me give you my history.

One year ago, in January 2010, Rakudo Star was unusable for my business projects. While I'd objected to the nom fork-and-rewrite, it was clear that the Rakudo developers were going ahead with it anyway. I decided against using whatever the "stable" branch of Star was at the time, because it was also clear that it was a branch abandoned to bitrot in the hopes that nom would be available sooner rather than later. (Want your statistics to mean something? Count the number of commits to nom versus its predecessor. QED.)

Sure, there were a couple of Star releases in 2010, but they were all off of the abandoned branch. That means no ecosystem (such as it is). That means no bugfixes. That means it's further away from the specification. None of these are reasons to use it. (Does it even compile against a modern Parrot? Has anyone tested that?)

It's almost a year later, and nom isn't up to the point where its predecessor was. (It's ahead in some ways, but it's regressed in others. If you're claiming that Star provides stability, you don't regress.)

It doesn't really matter why releases were skipped or slipped. What matters is that a fork and rewrite underwent unsurprising scope creep. There went a year.

Do the Rakudo developers deserve applause for running so hard to stay mostly in place, Red Queen style? I say no.

What would you have done?

I wouldn't have undertaken a year-long rewrite, and even if I had, I wouldn't have crammed more features in it.


Comment on Rakudo Star, Red Queen Edition
Rakudo Challenge! (was Red Queen Edition)
by raiph (Friar) on Jan 24, 2012 at 04:42 UTC
    Do the Rakudo developers deserve applause for running so hard to stay mostly in place {for one year}, Red Queen style? I say no.
    I actually don't know whether you are right or not about your Red Queen dig, because I have not tried the new compiler. I'd be absolutely stunned if you were right.

    The nom branch was started just after the Jan 2011 Rakudo Star. The team is just about to publish the Jan 2012 Rakudo Star, the first using a compiler based on the nom branch you so disparage. If they've been running hard to stay mostly in place, there'll be little difference between the two. Perhaps it'll even have regressed. I'd love to see a serious comparison between the two, so:

    I challenge you and the Rakudo team to write dueling comparisons. I think it would only make sense to do so using a powerful, modern machine (loads of RAM, multi-core cpu, fast disk, the works), because the Rakudo team has claimed a lot of speed optimization in the last year, but have voiced concern about its resource usage and have noted that they have not yet done space etc. optimization. However, you are free to stack the odds as you wish.

      I challenge you and the Rakudo team to write dueling comparisons.

      What a waste of everyone's time that would be. To repeat to you yet again, everyone who's looked at nom knows it has regressions against what it will eventually replace.

      the Rakudo team has claimed a lot of speed optimization in the last year

      Yes, and several of them I identified years ago. A few of them I volunteered to fix ages ago too, but they turned me down.

Re: Rakudo Star, Red Queen Edition
by raiph (Friar) on Jan 24, 2012 at 05:05 UTC

    chromatic, you have said yourself:

    Rakudo Star is a useful and usable subset of Perl 6 you can use right now.

    As I've consistently argued, it's up to you to decide what "useful" or "production" or "stable" mean.

    At that time you had used Rakudo Star and seemed to accept the subjective definition of notions like "useful" and "production".

    But I note that you introduced "stable". In the 2009 post announcing Rakudo Star Patrick himself explicitly focused on his discomfort with the moniker "stable", subjectively defined or not, in the context of Rakudo Star (let alone the in-development Rakudo compiler):

    So, once we eliminate the notion of "finished", the wording is often changed to try to make it more tractable, often by asking when there will be a "stable release". ... part of me thinks "Huh? Those questions don't really fit with the way things really happen in language development... "
    Rakudo Star is likely to be more stable than the plain Rakudo compiler, but it is clearly not something anyone should be building a business project on.
    One year ago, in January 2010, Rakudo Star was unusable for my business projects.
    s/2010/2011/.

    Was Rakudo Star ever usable for your business projects?

    While I'd objected to the nom fork-and-rewrite
    Do you think your objection was influenced by the fact that Rakudo (Star or otherwise) was unusable for your business projects?
    I decided against using whatever the "stable" branch of Star was at the time
    There are no (non-master) branches of Star, "stable" or otherwise.
    because it was also clear that it was a branch abandoned to bitrot
    New quarterly Star releases were published in April and July, with 200 commits after the creation of the compiler nom branch in February. Given the nature of Rakudo Star as it was intended (not as a basis for business projects!) its treatment seems reasonable to me and not consistent with "abandoned to bitrot".
    That means no bugfixes.
    Check the commit log. I see bug fixes.
    It's almost a year later, and nom isn't up to the point where its predecessor was. (It's ahead in some ways, but it's regressed in others. If you're claiming that Star provides stability, you don't regress.)
    You're confusing the Rakudo compiler and Rakudo Star.

    The Rakudo compiler appears to be far ahead of where it was a year ago in many regards, chiefly because of the nom branch, as one would expect.

    Rakudo Star, which is a package including many things, has not yet switched to the nom version of the compiler, so it can not have regressed due to the nom branch. As made clear near the start of this comment, while Rakudo Star is said to be more stable than the plain compiler, the team explicitly avoided stability promises of the sort that someone doing a business project might require.

    It is unfortunate that you misunderstood Rakudo Star's purpose and scope. I agree the team would be well advised to see if it can further clarify Rakudo Star's purpose and scope, and I will mention this on #perl6.

      In the 2009 post announcing Rakudo Star Patrick himself explicitly focused on his discomfort with the moniker "stable"...

      I was in the room with him! His concern as I recall was in part due to the fact that he (and everyone, really) rightly expected that the specification would change. It has.

      If you read my posts, you'll find out that that's never been my concern.

      Please do us both the courtesy of reading my posts.

        OK. I assume you didn't mean your posts in this Meditation. (I've carefully read all of those, but I think that was obvious.) So I just went and explored the 25 matches to a google for "site:www.modernperlbooks.com rakudo star". This seemed an appropriate best effort response to your request. Maybe this wasn't what you meant; if so I'd appreciate an elaboration of "my posts" or better still some specific URLs or quotes.

        The only posts of the 25 saying something substantive relevant to this exchange were Why My Side Project Doesn't Use Perl 6 and In Search of Minimum Viable Utility. I'd read both of those before.

        Imo your link to "my list of requirements to use Rakudo for practical purposes" in the earlier post is the most revealing element. I don't think Rakudo Star was intended to meet those sorts of requirements. I plan to ask Patrick if he thinks Rakudo Star was, should be, or will ever be, about trying to meet those sorts of requirements. If he chooses to answer, I'll post back here to update.

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