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Re: SVN is not truly distributed?

From: Jim Blandy <jimb_at_red-bean.com>
Date: 2002-08-07 23:54:56 CEST

Alexy Khrabrov <alexy.khrabrov@setup.org> writes:
> In an interview with Larry McVoy, the BitKeeper's founder,
> there's a remark that contrasts BitKeeper with all other VCS's:
> [http://www.kerneltrap.org/node.php?id=222]
> I will predict that you will never see a centralized system evolve into
> a distributed system. So CVS/Subversion/ClearCase/Perforce/etc will all
> stay with the centralized client/server architecture.
> They may try to replicate distributed systems and it will sort of work,
> but all the corner cases will not work.
> You need to design a distributed system to be distributed from day one.
> Is it the feeling of Subversion's founders that Subversion is not truly
> distributed? I thought that the web-based nature of SVN allows for easy
> replication of repositories and multiple repositories, and modular
> architecture allows to manage those locally and add syncing globally in
> any n-way fashion needed.
> What exactly can be missing in SVN "from day 1"?
> I'd like to understand if there's a fundamental issue here
> SVN needs to address in order to provide everything BitKeeper
> can eventually.

I think I've heard Karl say he thought Subversion could support
changesets, or at least their most important qualities. I haven't
thought it all through, but I think he may be right.

I know Subversion will adapt to meet various needs that we've put off
for now. Maybe we'll meet them well, maybe poorly. If we maintain
the energy around Subversion it has now, I suspect we'll do pretty

Statements like "you need to design a distributed system to be
distributed from day one" are sort of mythological. Who says? Why?
It's not really an assertion that one can argue for or against based
on the code --- it's more an assertion about the code's soul, or
something. So I don't really know how to respond to it. Maybe a
shrug is about right.

Doesn't BitKeeper itself have some corner cases? Some approximations?
Are those cut corners and approximations more or less annoying than
those Subversion will inherit from its centralized-server origins? Or
is it all just a matter of how much time you put into the details?

From what I've seen working in the Free and Open Source scene since
1988, I just wouldn't want to bet against evolution.

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Received on Wed Aug 7 23:55:32 2002

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