Decentralizing VM development (was Re: [Vm-dev] Re: 64 bit VM, source anyone?)

Bert Freudenberg bert at
Wed Dec 5 13:58:30 UTC 2007

On Dec 5, 2007, at 12:07 , David T. Lewis wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 05, 2007 at 10:26:44AM +0200, goran at wrote:
>> I am considering creating two Mercurial repos:
>> - One mirroring Ian's SVN.
>> - One that I push all the above into and make available for write to
>> people asking. :)
>> - And a VMMaker repo.
> I don't know anything about Mercurial, but IMHO the only real
> missing piece is that it would be helpful to get a copy of the
> VMMaker Montecello files copied over to a SqueakSource repository.
> That's not a tools problem, it's just a matter of convincing Tim
> to do it.

Well, Tim made clear he is only willing to be convinced by money. So  
unless we can pony up a million in his preferred currency, we're  
going to have to do it ourselves.

>> Why? Because:
>> 1. I would like to see if that works technically.
>> 2. I would like to see if there is enough interest from others in  
>> a more
>> distributed and open "experimental" approach to maintaining the VM.
> It would be an interesting experiment, but speaking just for myself
> I'm more interested in making best use of existing resources (people
> plus tools) and I really do not have enough free time to keep track
> of more development repositories. Shucks, I can't even keep up with
> all the different Squeak images, never mind tracking any more VM
> projects ;)

I'd be interested in having a single repository host both VMMaker  
sources and platform code. Maybe it even needs to host a VMMaker  
image. It's unbelievably hard to reproduce an official VM from first  
principles, let alone doing serious VM development on your own in a  
way that can be easily integrated back into the main line by the  
maintainers. We must find a way that lets them evaluate and integrate  
proposed changes without much effort. The current setup requires too  
much energy on both maintainers and developers, leading to stagnation.

The official maintainers carry a great responsibility, if something  
breaks, *they* are going to get blamed. So they are conservative, for  
a good reason. Other developers are maintaining their own VMs,  
without being able to effectively share. A de-centralized environment  
with a pull model a la Mercurial or git could help this a lot, as it  
allows independent development as well as easy cherry-picking for the  
official versions.

- Bert -

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