goodbye to dynamic libraries...?

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Subject: goodbye to dynamic libraries...?
From: Kai Vehmanen (
Date: Tue Oct 08 2002 - 01:55:19 EEST

First of all, if you think this is a very bad way to go, do let me know.
This request is aimed especially to those of you who are involved with
distribution issues. I'll consider silence as 'I agree'. :) Ok, let me

1. Problem

The current ecasound development model does not work very well. Nowadays
it's simply impossible for me to spend long periods of time on ecasound
development. I still have time for it, but it's just much more irregular.
The common scenario nowadays is that I spent a hectic day or two
implementing some new feature, and then have to return to other tasks.
After a month or so the cycle repeats.

2. Symptoms

With the current model, the development series just never gets enough
testing. As it is now, most ecasound users are using the stable branch.
Only very few people actively use the development versions. This means I'm
getting very little feedback concerning the new features, especially when
compared to the huge amount of functionality that ecasound nowadays

A prime example of this is that yesterday, when doing some multitrack
recording with the latest 2.1dev12, I noticed a huge bug in the
multitrack-mode code. It turned out that ecasound would stop processing if
all inputs tracks became finished, _even though_ we were still recording a
live input. The fact that a bug of this magnitude has gone unnoticed for
many _months_ makes me very, very, very uncomfortable about the status of
the current development branch.

3. Lost in the woods

During the last year or so I've tried to find a cure to this problem. I've
spent lots and lots of time with library versioning issues, defining roles
for different branches, change control, developer documentation and other
stuff that doesn't directly benefit the normal end-users of ecasound
(including myself).

I've also tried to attack the problem with testing. I've written separate
test tools for libecasound and libecasoundc, a general testsuite and
various smaller tools. These have helped a lot, but in the end, testing
just doesn't replace real-life use.

At the same time, the reality is that aside ECI apps, _nobody_ is using
ecasound as a platform. So most of this work is just wasted effort. And
this isn't a problem of slow adoption. Although released versions of
libecasound have been available for over two years, the only applications
using it are ecawave and ecamegapedal (both written by me). Maintaining
the whole shared-library thing going on for just these two,
not-so-widely-used apps just doesn't seem sensible.

4. Improvement Proposal

Inspired by the recent work on standalone ECI implementations, I'd like to
drop the whole ecasound-as-a-platform concept, and instead, continue
developing ecasound as an application. Only supported way of using
ecasound as a development platform would be ECI.

5. Implications

- only one code-branch (no more separate stable and development
  releases; just releases and CVS-access for bleeding-edge development)
- removal of all shared libraries (libkvutils and libecasound)
- ecasound binary would be statically linked against libkvutils
  and libecasound, but dynamically against other libraries
- ecatools have to be rewritten using ECI (otherwise
  we'd have too many multi-megabyte binaries :))
- ecawave and ecamegapedal have to be linked statically (this
  isn't that big of a problem, I'm quite sure the few people
  on this planet that use all these three apps can
  sacrifice the harddrive space for three copies of libecasound
  and libkvutils


Huh, I tried to keep this short, but as always, I got carried
away a bit. :)

 Audio software for Linux!

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