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Old 03-15-2009, 04:30 PM
Martín Ferrari
 
Default net-tools future

Hi,

Luk Claes and me, as the current maintainers of net-tools, we've been
thinking about it's future. Net-tools has been a core part of Debian and
any other linux based distro for many years, but it's showing its age.

It doesnt support many of the modern features of the linux kernel, the
interface is far from optimal and difficult to use in automatisation,
and also, it hasn't got much love in the last years.

On the other side, the iproute suite, introduced around the 2.2 kernel
line, has both a much better and consistent interface, is more powerful,
and is almost ten years old, so nobody would say it's untested.

Hence, our plans are to replace net-tools completely with iproute, maybe
leading the route for other distributions to follow. Of course, most
people and tools use and remember the venerable old interface, so the
first step would be to write wrappers, trying to be compatible with
net-tools.

At the same time, we believe that most packages using net-tools should
be patched to use iproute instead, while others can continue using the
wrappers for some time. The ifupdown package is obviously the first
candidate, but it seems that a version using iproute has been available
in experimental since 2007.

So, the roadmap would be:
- Send patches to net-tools using packages to use iproute instead
- Development of the wrapper scripts
- Uploading to experimental a net-tools-compat package, to allow wider
testing.
- Upload to unstable

About the wrapper scripts:
* ipconfig, route: the most difficult ones, both can be replaced by
calls to "ip", maybe except for some obscure options.
* netstat : sstat provides almost the same information, just some
formatting changes and parsing the command line
* rarp should be dropped, as the linux kernel doesn't support it
anymore, since the 2.3 series. The replacement, arpd, is already
included in iproute.
* ipmaddr works exactly as "ip maddr", in fact, the code is from the
iproute sources. Same for iptunnel and "ip tunnel". In both cases,
they're just replaced by a symlinkm, as the ip command recognises that.
* nameif: can be replaced by "ip link", not sure if it's worth the
effort (does anybody actually use it?)

Problematic tools:
* mii-tool: it could be dropped and replaced by a pointer to ethtool as
it's not meant to be used automatically by scripts. On the other hand,
it's distributed as a stand-alone tool [0] and we could do the same.
* plipsetup, slattach: we don't know of any replacement for those, but
could be distributed separately too. Also, it's dubious if anyone still
uses them.

0: http://freshmeat.net/projects/mii-tool/

--
Martín Ferrari <tincho@debian.org>
 
Old 03-15-2009, 05:11 PM
 
Default net-tools future

On Mar 15, Martín Ferrari <tincho@debian.org> wrote:

> * netstat : sstat provides almost the same information, just some
> formatting changes and parsing the command line
While I am happy to see ifconfig and route go, I am not sure that
netstat is in the same category and should be replaced with something
which is not 100% compatibile in the output.

> * nameif: can be replaced by "ip link", not sure if it's worth the
> effort (does anybody actually use it?)
Kill it ASAP, it's not compatible with udev.

> * plipsetup, slattach: we don't know of any replacement for those, but
> could be distributed separately too. Also, it's dubious if anyone still
> uses them.
I expect that some people still do, and I think it's reasonable to
continue distributing them in a extra priority package.

--
ciao,
Marco
 
Old 03-15-2009, 05:41 PM
Ben Hutchings
 
Default net-tools future

On Sun, 2009-03-15 at 14:30 -0300, Martín Ferrari wrote:
[...]
> * nameif: can be replaced by "ip link", not sure if it's worth the
> effort (does anybody actually use it?)

Never heard of it, and it seems redundant with udev now. There's also
ifrename.

> Problematic tools:
> * mii-tool: it could be dropped and replaced by a pointer to ethtool as
> it's not meant to be used automatically by scripts. On the other hand,
> it's distributed as a stand-alone tool [0] and we could do the same.
[...]

Note that ethtool cannot yet provide all of the information mii-tool
does (#511392). I hope to submit patches to the kernel and ethtool to
fix this, though.

Ben.

--
Ben Hutchings
Absolutum obsoletum. (If it works, it's out of date.) - Stafford Beer
 

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