Via LWN, we found a blog post of a Debian maintainer which announces a new package: EGLIBC, a compatible reimplementation of the GNU glibc which “which will soon replace the GNU C Library”. Apparently the primary reason is the sadly famous bad maintainership aptitude of Ulrich Drepper, the main libc maintainer.
The blog post explains that even though EGLIBC is primarily aimed at embedded architectures it still has some very favourable features:
- More friendly upstream (especially with regard to embedded architectures): “Encourage cooperation, communication, civility, and respect among developers“; (as opposed to this).
- Stable branch with fixes for important bugs (a real one, not like the GLIBC one which is left unchanged).
- Better support for embedded architectures.
- Support for different shells (GLIBC only supports bash).
- Support for building with -Os.
- Configurable components (do we really need NIS or RPC support in debian-installer?).
- Better testsuite for optimized or biarch packages.
EGLIBC is source and binary compatible with the original GLIBC, and the package names will remain the same (except the source packages). Not all of the above features are yet taken advantage of, but the upload of the package is a first step.
GLIBC is a core package of the GNU project, so in all honesty, I never paid much attention to it. It’s just there, silently doing its job. However, reading through some of the bug reports, it does seem that its maintainer, Ulrich Drepper, is a bit of an ass. Since Free software/open source is not just about the code, but also the people around it, I say that any move away from certain types of people is a good one.
Still, this is all only one side of the story, so I reserve judgment on Drepper for now.