bug tracking and code review

i was going to write some reactions to an observation that postgresql has no bug tracker and its discussion last week, but lost the spark and abandoned the post after a few days. but today i ran across a quote from linus torvalds that neatly sums up my thoughts:

We’ve always had some pending/unresolved issues, and I think that as our tracking gets better, there’s likely to be more of them. A number of bug-reports are either hard to reproduce (often including from the reporter) or end up without updates etc.

before there was a bug tracking system for mysql, there was a claim that all bugs were fixed in each release (or documented), and there has been a lot of pain in seeing how well that sort of claim stacks up against a actual growing repository of bug reports. if the postgresql project were to adopt a bug-tracking system, i am certain that they would find the same issue. before long, they would be planning bug triage days just like every other project with a bug-tracking system seems destined to do.

another good email from linus about these issues was pointed out by a coworker, but this part in particular caught my eye:

Same goes for “we should all just spend time looking at each others patches and trying to find bugs in them.” That’s not a solution, that’s a drug-induced dream you’re living in. And again, if I want to discuss dreams, I’d rather talk about my purple guy, and the bad things he does to the hedgehog that lives next door.

the procedure at mysql for code reviews is that either two other developers must review the patch, or one of an elite group of developers who are trusted to make single reviews. then the developer can push their changes into their team trees, taking care to have merged the changes correctly in anywhere from one to four versions (4.1 and up).

this is a huge amount of friction, and is one of the most significant problems causing pain for mysql development. two reviewers is just too high of a bar for most patches, and having the rule makes the reviews rote and less useful. there is also an unreasonable amount of distrust being displayed by this procedure, that says that developers can’t be trusted to ask for help when they are unsure, but should feel free to make the occasional mistake by pushing something that isn’t quite right.

i wonder if we could be taking better lessons from linux’s hierarchical development model, with the pulling of code up through lieutenants to a single main repository, rather than the existing model that involves every developer moving their own stones up the pyramid. it would require some developers (more senior ones, presumably) to spend more of their time doing code management as opposed to actual coding.

monty is not particularly happy with the state of development of his brainchild now. would he be happier if he were in a linus-like role of rolling up patches and managing releases?

i wish had the patience to write at less length and greater coherence about this.

» mysql, work, code, postgresql, bugs, code review, linus torvalds, linux
« wonton had a birthdayown a bar in downtown los angeles »

comments

Hi!

Something that I think most people miss... having commit access is a lot of work. It is much easier to just send in patches and let someone else deal with them.

For some reason commit access is considered "godhood" when in reality it is just drudgery.

One thing is definite, we need more branched then what we have today. The monolithic tree is not scaling.

Cheers,
-Brian

» Brian Aker (link) » may 5, 2008 3:06pm

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