Five years ago Debian and most derivatives switched from the standard GNU C Library (GLIBC) to the Embedded GLIBC (EGLIBC). Debian is now about to take the reverse way switching back to GLIBC, as EGLIBC is now a dead project, the last release being the 2.19 one. At the time of writing the glibc package has been uploaded to experimental and sits in the NEW queue.
EGLIBC is dead for a good reason: the GLIBC development has changed a lot in the recent years, due to two major events: Ulrich Drepper leaving Red Hat and the GLIBC development, and the GLIBC steering committe self-dissolving. This has resulted in a much more friendly development based on team work with good cooperation. The development is now based on peer review, which results in less buggy code (humans do make mistakes). It has also resulted in things that were clearly impossible before, like using the same repository for all architectures, and even getting rid of the
ports/ directory. Before we used to have two sets of architectures, the main ones in the glibc repository with architectures like x86, SuperH or SPARC, and the secondary ones in the glibc-ports repository with architectures like ARM or MIPS. As you can see the separation was quite arbitrary, and often leaded to missing changes on the secondary architectures. We also got real stable branches, with regular fixes.
The most important EGLIBC features have been merged to GLIBC, including for example the use of non-bash but POSIX shell, or the renaming of reserved keywords. The notable exception is the support for configurable components, which we originally planned to use for Debian-Installer, by building a smaller flavor using
-Os and without NIS and RPC support. At the end we never worked on that, and it seems that the hardware targeted by Debian has grown faster than the GLIBC size, so that is not really a big loss. At the end, we ended up with only 5 missing patches from the EGLIBC tree:
- Installation of *_pic.a files for use of mklibs in debian-installer
- Dynamic reload of /etc/resolv.conf
- Installation of headers during bootstrapping
- Workarounds for PowerPC 8xx CPUs
- Access to FPSCR on SH4
The package names are unchanged (except the source package and the binary package containing the sources) so the transition is fully transparent for the users.
I would like to thank all the CodeSourcery employees who worked on EGLIBC, with a special thank to Joseph Myers who spent countless hours to merge the most important EGLIBC changes back to GLIBC, and sent regular emails about the merge status. I would also like to thanks all the people on the GLIBC side that made the change to happen, and all persons participating in the GLIBC development.