17 Mar 2004 ncm   » (Master)

Seagulls circling in a blizzard is not something I ever expected to see out my office window.

Wonderful news... It looks as if the Gcc project plans to commit, finally, to a compiler-and-library C++ ABI, coincident with the release of gcc-3.4 this month. That means code built with any g++-3.4.x (or 3.5.x, hopefully) compiler, and linked against the corresponding libstdc++.so, will be upward link-compatible, just as code linked against any Glibc-2.x can dynamic-link to any later Glibc. If it's not obvious to you why this is big news, think how much trouble it is to get a whole bunch of different libraries built with the same compiler dot-release as the program you hope to run that depends on them.

This ABI eliminates the biggest single impediment to a lively bazaar in C++ libraries. Writing powerful libraries is what C++ is really all about; the STL was just a first step. Now the trick will be to get all the GNU/Linux distributions to ship libraries built with that version, so that C++ binaries might be compatible across distros without needing to be static-linked. (Debian will need pushing, particularly.) Meanwhile, our own murrayc's GNOME C++ bindings are now mature enough to make C++ GNOME programs as compile-time-safe, and convenient, as with any native C++ GUI toolkit.

Bad news... First Miguel, then ESR, and now Havoc. Sigh. What is it about marketing scams promoting proprietary software deployment vehicles that they so easily take in Free Software spokesmen? Free Software has achieved all it has, exceeding by far every conventional expectation, without such dubious help. Suddenly, running on a slow, memory-hungry, buggy, untuneable "platform" capable of supporting only crabbed imitations of native languages is the modern, high-level way to do software development. C++ has somehow become indistinguishable from C, and incapable of high-level-itiveness, whatever they imagine that to be. Weird. At least Havoc isn't on his knees begging favors from Scott McNealy.

Good news... I upgraded my gnome-panel and metacity packages, and now the panel auto-hides correctly, again. Yay somebody! Linux-2.6.4 is still working fine. Evolution started crashing, but stopped when I upgraded to a binary built against the new GNOME libraries that came in with the panel upgrade. Galeon still isn't leaking zombie threads, despite my wife's assiduous eBayage. Another milestone: I have finally deleted all my old Netscape 4 binaries.

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