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Recently it was noticed that users on more bleeding-edge Linux distributions that updated saw Easy Anti-Cheat no longer working on Linux, the culprit was glibc and now a Valve developer has spoken out about it.

Writing in a small thread on Twitter, Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais said:

Unfortunate that upstream glibc discussion on DT_HASH isn't coming out strongly in favor of prioritizing compatibility with pre-existing applications. Every such instance contributes to damaging the idea of desktop Linux as a viable target for third-party developers.

Our thoughts on the topic from this prior compatibility issue in BlueZ apply more than ever: https://github.com/bluez/bluez/commit/35a2c50437cca4d26ac6537ce3a964bb509c9b62#commitcomment-56028543
It is unfortunately yet another entry in a growing list over the years.

We understand that working with a focus on compatibility requires more resources and more engineering trade-offs, but strongly believe it is nonetheless the way to go. We are very interested in helping with any underlying resource constraints.

This prompted CodeWeavers (who work on Wine and with Valve on Proton) developer Arek Hiler to write a blog post titled "Win32 Is The Only Stable ABI on Linux" and their ending statement is something people should think on:

I think this whole situation shows why creating native games for Linux is challenging. It’s hard to blame developers for targeting Windows and relying on Wine + friends. It’s just much more stable and much less likely to break and stay broken.

Hiler certainly isn't the only one to think like that, with another CodeWeavers developer Andrew Eikum mentioning on Hacker News some time ago:

As a long-time Linux dev (see my profile), I have also found this to be true. Linux userland APIs are unstable and change all the time. Some transitions that come to mind that have affected me personally: ALSA->pulse; libudev->libudev2->systemd; gstreamer 0.10->1.0. All of those changes required modifications to my software, and the backwards-compat tools that are provided are buggy and insufficient. Meanwhile, you can still write and run winmm[1] applications on Windows 10, and they will work in almost all cases. It's simply the case that the win32 API is more stable than Linux userland APIs, so it's entirely plausible that games will run better in Wine, which shares that stable ABI, than they will on Linux, especially as time goes on and Linux userland shifts yet again.

[1] winmm dates to the Windows 3.x days!

Situations like this can be pretty messy and this is not a case of open source versus secret closed source anti-cheat stuff either, since the glibc issue affected a Native Linux game (Shovel Knight) and Linux software libstrangle. No doubt there are other things yet to be discovered that were broken by the change.

It is of course also a case that Linux distributions need to ensure they do quality assurance testing, especially for gaming which can end up showing up issues quite easily and that bleeding-edge distributions can and clearly do end up breaking things by pulling new software in so quickly.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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123 comments
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pgr 17 Aug
Quoting: minidouI fail to see how glibc devs could be blamed for removing a function deprecated for 17 years (though I can agree a major version bump should have been called for). Do videogame devs need that much nursing ? EAC linux lib is a recent piece of software, how many deprecated dependencies do they use ?
The blame is not really about removing the deprecated feature. Blame is for the failure to restore it after discovering that users for the feature still exist and the removal broke stuff.


Last edited by pgr on 17 August 2022 at 10:05 am UTC
1xok 17 Aug
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: 1xokWin32 Is NOT The Only Stable ABI on Linux. The kernel ABI itself is also stable.
They clearly and consequently state userspace.
Yes, they also do mention Linus.


Last edited by 1xok on 17 August 2022 at 10:10 am UTC
TheSHEEEP 17 Aug
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Quoting: pgrThe blame is not really about removing the deprecated feature. Blame is for the failure to restore it after discovering that users for the feature still exist and the removal broke stuff.
Yes, a lot of developers (especially newer, younger ones that lack the experience) argue in favor of always using the very latest everything and always keeping everything updated.
I've seen that time and time again in several teams.

But that's not a position that can be maintained in reality.
You'd require armies just to maintain old stuff.

It's fine to remove a function if you can't see that anyone is using it. An understandable mistake.

But the moment you realize that there were indeed many still using it, it should clearly be restored (with a deprecation marker, but still).

The only exception here would be security vulnerabilities. Those breaking software is even desirable.
Eike 17 Aug
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Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: 1xokThis whole criticism from CodeWeavers developers should be taken with a pinch of salt...
... Why?

Because WINE is where their money comes from?
It's not like they're a neutral party in this question...
Beamboom 17 Aug
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: 1xokThis whole criticism from CodeWeavers developers should be taken with a pinch of salt...
... Why?

Because WINE is where their money comes from?
It's not like they're a neutral party in this question...

I see nothing wrong or biased in what they said.
minidou 17 Aug
Quoting: pgr
Quoting: minidouI fail to see how glibc devs could be blamed for removing a function deprecated for 17 years (though I can agree a major version bump should have been called for). Do videogame devs need that much nursing ? EAC linux lib is a recent piece of software, how many deprecated dependencies do they use ?
The blame is not really about removing the deprecated feature. Blame is for the failure to restore it after discovering that users for the feature still exist and the removal broke stuff.

They did restore it because of the backlash, but they really shouldn't have, there's no reason for it. This isn't some obscure lib we're talking about but the GNU C library. If a handful of program gets broken it's on them, the function was marked deprecated almost two decades ago. An outstanding majority of program have no issue at all with the removal of this function, why should a niche but maybe high visibility user dictate the direction of glibc ?

Something not discussed here is that the removal of DT_HASH allows a save of about 1% or 16kB of space per Glibc shared object. This is an improvement. There clearly is a good reason for finally removing this deprecated function. But we shouldn't profit from this improvement because of some devs bad practice ?

Quoting: TheSHEEEP
Quoting: pgrThe blame is not really about removing the deprecated feature. Blame is for the failure to restore it after discovering that users for the feature still exist and the removal broke stuff.
Yes, a lot of developers (especially newer, younger ones that lack the experience) argue in favor of always using the very latest everything and always keeping everything updated.
I've seen that time and time again in several teams.

But that's not a position that can be maintained in reality.
You'd require armies just to maintain old stuff.

It's fine to remove a function if you can't see that anyone is using it. An understandable mistake.

This is off topic. The impacted softwares were initialised years after DT_HASH was marked deprecated. In the case of EAC lib, probably a good 15 years later. In every sector of the software industry this would be considered bad practice, but VG softwares get a pass for some reason.

Quoting: TheSHEEEPBut the moment you realize that there were indeed many still using it, it should clearly be restored (with a deprecation marker, but still).

They did that, almost two decades ago.

And it seems there isn't that many users impacted. I can count the EAC lib and some lib used in shovel night. Compared to the millions of programs using glibc.
Eike 17 Aug
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Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: 1xokThis whole criticism from CodeWeavers developers should be taken with a pinch of salt...
... Why?

Because WINE is where their money comes from?
It's not like they're a neutral party in this question...

I see nothing wrong or biased in what they said.

We didn't say it's wrong. But they are biased. It's hard to take an absolute neutral standpoint about something that feeds your family. This doesn't automatically mean there's something wrong with what they said. Just have your salt ready.

But, as you asked:
QuoteIt’s hard to blame developers for targeting Windows and relying on Wine + friends. It’s just much more stable and much less likely to break and stay broken.

I have heard it's not that easy and automatically working to run old Windows games on Windows, so I am not sure about this. I would even think that Code Weavers have to work around such changes. What I positively know (as they are mentioning changes in Linux sound interfaces) is that my Sound Blaster card stopped working on Windows with some update and continued to work on Linux.
Quoting: JpxeIsn't Flatpak the solution to this? Then you can just target the runtime environment and it will always stay the same

Or Snap rather. Snaps are much more versatile than flatpaks. They are not each others drop in replacements against a surprisingly common misconception.

Packagers in general very often choose Snap because Flatpak is made for desktop applications only, while Snap can ship libraries, apps, server/CLI software, and much more.

The longer initial startup time of Firefox is most definitely not a reasonable excuse to suggest ditching the whole thing which is a work in progress anyways.
TheSHEEEP 17 Aug
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Quoting: minidouSomething not discussed here is that the removal of DT_HASH allows a save of about 1% or 16kB of space per Glibc shared object. This is an improvement. There clearly is a good reason for finally removing this deprecated function. But we shouldn't profit from this improvement because of some devs bad practice ?
That's neat.
But irrelevant when compared to the importance of not breaking user space.

You could add a megabyte to each object and it would still pale in comparison to how important not breaking existing software is.

Memory is not an issue anymore nowadays outside of very specific environments. We've left the 90s a few decades ago.
And those specific environments can compile their own glibc with the flag enabling the optimization if they need it. In fact, optimizations like that are standard for low-spec environments.

Quoting: minidouThey did that, almost two decades ago.

And it seems there isn't that many users impacted. I can count the EAC lib and some lib used in shovel night. Compared to the millions of programs using glibc.
You are not thinking things through.

This is just one library.
Imagine if all libraries took this approach. A few pieces of software here using something deprecated from lib X, a few pieces of software there using something deprecated from lib Y...
And very, very soon you will have tons of stuff not working anymore (especially older software that isn't maintained, but still used by some or even many).

If MS followed that approach, Windows wouldn't have anywhere near the desktop share it has now.
They are clearly doing something very, very right with maintaining legacy code.

Also, so what if they did that 20 years ago?
Somehow, EAC and a bunch of others still ended up using that function. Probably looked something up online, copied the function, it worked and that's it. Or had auto-complete suggest something, or whatever.
You can't expect programmers to double-check every single function they use for possible deprecation, that's absurd.

Deprecation warnings in compilations get overlooked, too.
That's not good, you can call it bad practice or whatever makes you feel good about yourself, but in practice, it happens. A lot. And that's the reality that has to be dealt with, not some kind of utopia in which programmers have eradicated bad practice...


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 17 August 2022 at 11:42 am UTC
Beamboom 17 Aug
Quoting: EikeWe didn't say it's wrong. But they are biased. It's hard to take an absolute neutral standpoint about something that feeds your family. This doesn't automatically mean there's something wrong with what they said. Just have your salt ready.

In real life absolute objectivity/neutrality doesn't exist. If you have insight into something, you'll always have some sort of alignment. You come from somewhere who has some sort of connection to the topic.

But what's said here really folds neatly into what's been said by multiple sources basically since the beginning of Linux. There's simply no reason to doubt (or take with a pinch of salt) what's here said. Even if you work as a developer for a given firm, doesn't mean you *always* will talk like a marketeer.

Some even use it as an argument *for* Linux, as the backward compatibility of Windows really is a nightmare for them - it adds overhead and/or complexity to the platform. Getting rid of obsolete calls is also a luxury.
A *lot* of the security breaches over the years has been rooted in the chaos of backward compatibility.

That's another fun factor here: Everything has their pros and cons. :)


Last edited by Beamboom on 18 August 2022 at 10:29 am UTC
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