[Netkit.users] Clarification about the contributions process ?

Julien Iguchi-Cartigny julien.iguchi-cartigny at lifl.fr
Sat May 18 22:08:40 CEST 2013

Dear Massimo,


> As you have observed, development has been a bit frozen for a while,
> due to engagement of (human) resources in many other
> research-related activities. However, a fair survey should also
> reckon that labs are updated on a regular basis (also see the
> "Recently updated pages" report at
> http://wiki.netkit.org/index.php/News), support requests are always 
> answered, and the software is in a good enough shape to be fully 
> functional on a wide variety of platforms, with few exceptions, thus 
> decreasing the urge to apply critical fixes. 

First I need to apologies for my previous rough mail, I know it is
difficult to find time / human ressources (especially in the academic
sector). I also want to thank you for all your work you've done for Nekit.

> At the same time, our 
> presence on Github is a precious opportunity to collect issues and 
> proposed fixes/enhancements (pull requests) that, although currently 
> stale, are available to us for being merged upstream in a more 
> development-friendly moment.I'm omitting that forks, which enable 
> independent development by others, are of course possible, as you
> have experienced yourself.
> That said, I don't think that "dead" is an appropriate adjective to 
> describe the project status. I understand that our current
> "stuckness" in accepting pull requests may discourage further
> submissions, but if asking for changes to go upstream is too slow a
> path, another possibility in the meantime is to send to us a packaged
> contributed release, which we would be happy to publish on the web
> site. This would take much shorter and is independent of our current
> "development power".

I believe I have another usage / vision about Nekit. You're looking for
a stable architecture and adding / upgrading labs. In my case the netkit
software is more interesting with my own labs. But for my goal netkit is
not usable for several reasons:

- the "untar and run" idea of netkit which permit to use it without
installing software or having the root rights is not totally
supported at the present time: for 64 bits architectures it requires
some libs (32 bits libc for instance). It could be problematic for some
cases (for my case: i was a computer room in a foreign country for a
network course and i couldn't use nekit because computers had only a
fresh 64 bits install of ubuntu and a slow internet connection).

- the integration of uml_dump is really needed, i've received and helped
several people for integration of uml_dump in their netkit installation,
and my archive of netkit 2.8 with uml_dump has been downloaded more than
100 times on 2 years.

- building the netkit-uml-filesystem is definitively broken, as it is
based on sid which is not maintened anymore and has a very annoying bug
with debootstrap (it forgets some dependencies for dpkg, the only way is
to collect a bunch of deb files and install them by hand before
launching the debootstrap process)

- furthermore, there is urgent need of an updated filesystem to have
recent tools like a working version of bind when using dnssec

- same story with the kernel, i've already fixed some bugs with the
actual building process.

I think to have a better communauty and expansion as a teaching tool,
netkit needs:

- a netkit-core with all dependencies (static linking) and with uml_dump
support in two versions: 32 and 64 bits (already available in my repository)

- a netkit-uml-filesystem and netkit-uml-kernel which can be build with
recent version of debian (these are also available in my repositories
but there is still some bugs in the filesystem). A modular build system
which can build various version and offer simple way to add new
softwares and modifications by netkit users is a plus.

We are really close to this goal (but it has also some drawbacks, for
instance the lack of MPLS support). I'm proposing the following
improvements to the netkit development process:

- I will create a simple web page with all new versions builded and with
aditionnal documentations. I will try to update this page with fork and
fixes and update my repository. People can then try the new versions and
report bug (preferably on your issue tab to avoid dissemination of
issues accross forked repositories.

- When you will consider it ready, you can integrate the build and data
in netkit wiki and pull the commits from my repository to yours

- if possible, could you give public or at least to the main
contributors the right to close issues in your repositories.

Of course, it is just a proposition and I wait your feedback.



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