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SubjectRe: [PATCH 109/148] include/asm-x86/serial.h: checkpatch cleanups - formatting only

* David Miller <> wrote:

> > I disagree. It's just misuse in this case (like using Lindent on
> > whole tree).
> Unlike sparse, this thing encourages the kind of behavior seen here.
> And even worse it becomes monkey see monkey do.
> There are mountains of more useful stuff to be working on (much of it
> automated, but unlike checkpatch work doesn't result in crap) rather
> than 148 patches of checkpatch vomit.

Joe should not have spammed lkml like this - but let me take up the
general issue of checkpatch that you touch upon - even if the incident
at hand puts checkpatch into an unfavorable light.

> Fixing sparse warnings properly fixes real issues, whereas fixing
> checkpatch stuff creates garbage 9 times out of 10.

actually, my experience has been that 99% of the arch/x86 sparse
annotations dont fix any "real" issue but remove a warning. The
remaining 1% still very much makes it worth though (they can prevent a
security hole, a bad bug, endianness incompatibility, etc.), so we've
taken a large amount of sparse annotations in arch/x86 in the past few
months - while fixing exactly zero "real" bugs in the process.

Same goes for checkpatch: almost no individual checkpatch change _looks_
worthwile in isolation, but the combined effect very much shows and
avoids real bugs. (While Sparse is 'type functional' and checkpatch is
'style only' - still both avoid real bugs - see below why.)

Lets consider the "end result" that we are aiming for. One example of a
"checkpatch clean" codebase is the scheduler (kernel/sched*.[ch]):

$ code-quality kernel/sched*.[ch]

errors lines of code errors/KLOC
kernel/sched.c 0 8490 0
kernel/sched_debug.c 0 402 0
kernel/sched_fair.c 0 1475 0
kernel/sched_idletask.c 0 130 0
kernel/sched_rt.c 0 1341 0
kernel/sched_stats.h 0 238 0

The value of a "checkpatch clean" codebase is significant to me as a
maintainer. No matter where i look at the (rather sizable) scheduler
codebase, the style is uniform and changes all look the same and are
much easier to review. Since 2.6.22 we've managed to do about 500
changes to this 10 KLOC codebase, with a very low regression rate - that
is more than 10 times the rate of change of the kernel as a whole.

We couldnt achieve that without broad "visual uniformity". Human vision
is based on pattern matching, which brain capacity has a physical limit.
Reducing the complexity of that process, and helping the "flow of eye
movement during review" is just as important as to clean up the logic of
code - it gives us better chances to find a bad bug during review.

We here on lkml are all quite good at filtering out unnecessary visual
noise when reviewing patches and writing code, but i prefer to reserve
that brain capacity towards understanding the code and finding mistakes
in it.

So i minimize all visual distractions in my physical work environment (i
optimize the field of view i have at the monitor), i minimize visual
distractions in the editor i use (no GUI for example, just plain
fullscreen text view with no borders, no menus, etc.), and an important
part of that is that i also minimize all unnecessary distractions in the
_code_ itself that i maintain.

But if you look at the git log of the scheduler in of the past 5 months,
you'll see a striking lack of trivial, checkpatch generated "monkey"

Why? Because all the patches that are applied are checkpatch-clean from
the get go, so there's no need for trivialities. There were certainly
some checkpatch "trivialities" early in the process (despite the
scheduler being very clean to begin with), but the transients have
subsided meanwhile and what we have is a squeaky-clean codebase in
action. In this model of maintenance, checkpatch ends up being just a
'background force' that never truly comes to the surface to bother us
with explicit trivialities. In other words: there's _zero_ room for
"monkey patches".

Note that there are no "problems to development patches" caused by
scheduler cleanups either - because there are essentially _no_ cleanup
patches at all in the scheduler - almost all patches we apply to the
scheduler are clean.

arch/x86 is on a similar path:

errors LOC err/KLOC
v2.6.24-rc1 arch/x86/ 8695 117423 74.0
v2.6.24-x86.git arch/x86/ [21 Nov 2007] 5190 117156 44.2
v2.6.24-x86.git arch/x86/ [18 Dec 2007] 4057 117213 34.6
v2.6.24-x86.git arch/x86/ [ 8 Jan 2008] 3650 117987 30.9
v2.6.24-x86.git arch/x86/ [ 4 Feb 2008] 3334 133542 24.9
v2.6.25-x86.git arch/x86/ [21 Feb 2008] 2724 136963 19.8
v2.6.25-x86.git arch/x86/ [ 1 Mar 2008] 2155 136404 15.7
v2.6.25-x86.git arch/x86/ [21 Mar 2008] 1979 137205 14.4

and once we reach a "zero" state, the flow of "explicit" checkpatch
patches comes to a virtual standstill - just like it did for the
scheduler. And we broke up the "please dont do this to my outstanding
development patches" Catch-22 (which is also a way too easy place for
lazy developers to hide behind) by doing backports/forward ports along
more intrusive cleanups.

On a more conceptual angle: "coding style", despite being entirely
"non-functional" (it does not affect the generated code), is still very
much an integral part of the code because source code is fundamentally
about "knowledge" - and extra style noise in knowledge can never
possibly increase the quality of that knowledge. There are strong links
between code correctness and typography/aesthetics.

So, in the specific example of the scheduler subsystem, i've only
observed advantages to checkpatch and zero downsides. Could anyone give
me _any_ objective reason why i shouldnt be using checkpatch for the
scheduler? More broadly, could anyone give me an objective reason why we
shouldnt be doing it for arch/x86? And even more broadly, could anyone
give me an objective reason why we shouldnt be doing it for all actively
maintained areas of the kernel?


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