[swift-evolution] [Out of scope] Discussion on general Darwin/GlibC module

Drew Crawford drew at sealedabstract.com
Thu Nov 10 21:48:43 CST 2016

    grep -R "import Glibc" ~/Code --include "*.swift" | wc -l

As someone who might be characterized as suffering from the problem this
proposal purports to solve, I am not convinced.

The primary problem here is that "libc" is a misnomer.  Did you mean
musl, dietlibc, or glibc?  Did you mean "whatever libc my distro likes?"
Swift in practice only supports one per platform, but that is a bug not
a feature, and that bug should not be standardized.  We could try to
invent some syntax to specify one but now we are back with the current
system again.

The other problem is that in all my usages, "import Glibc" is not a real
problem I face.  The real problems are that "the libcs *plural*" are
*just different*.  Darwin has timeval64, glibc does not, and you'd
better check your arch and pick the right one, only on one platform.
SO_REUSEADDR has one type in Brand X and another type in Brand Y.  Don't
even get me *started* on poll, EREs, or half a dozen other behavioral

Taking two different libraries and pretending they are the same is not
the solution, it's the disease.  The way out of this swamp for most
developers is to use a real Swift library, the same damn Swift library,
on all platforms (sadly, Foundation today does not meet this
requirement).  The way out of this swamp for crazy people like me who
must write to the metal is to actually write to the metal, to the
particular libc being targeted, not to a hypothetical platonic ideal
libc which does not exist.

I realize that four lines at the top of my files is a *visible*
annoyance, but fixing it just promotes it to an invisible one.


  Drew Crawford
  drew at sealedabstract.com

On Wed, Nov 9, 2016, at 12:58 PM, Alex Blewitt via swift-evolution wrote:
> Although out of scope for phase 1, something that keeps cropping up in
> a variety of Linux/Darwin Swift scripts is the conditional inclusion
> of Darwin or GlibC per platform. The last point was an observation
> that creating a 'nice' wrapper for LibC or a cleaned up POSIX API is a
> non-goal:
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20161003/027621.html
>> I think it makes sense to have a cross platform “libc” which is an
>> alias for darwin, glibc, or whatever, and just leave it at that.
>> Other proposals for a “POSIX” module have gotten bogged down because
>> inevitably the idea comes up to make the resultant API nicer in
>> various ways: rename creat, handle errno more nicely, make use of
>> multiple return values, … etc.  The problem with this approach is
>> that we don’t *want* people using these layer of APIs, we want higher
>> level Foundation-like APIs to be used.  ...*
* I think we should formally decide that a “nice” wrapper for libc is a
  non-goal.  There is too much that doesn’t make sense to wrap at this
  level - the only Swift code that should be using this is the
  implementation of higher level API, and such extremely narrow cases
  that we can live with them having to handle the problems of dealing
  with the raw APIs directly.  -Chris
> I have created a draft for a proposal to create such a module.
> Comments are welcome.
> Alex
> ---
> # Libc module for Swift
> * Proposal: [SE-NNNN](NNNN-filename.md)
> * Authors: [Alex Blewitt](https://github.com/alblue)
> * Review Manager: TBD
> * Status: **Under discussion**
> ## Introduction
> When running on Darwin, the base module is called `Darwin`.
> When running
> on Linux or other operating systems, it's called `GlibC`.
> This repeatedly leads to code such as:
>     ````
>     #if os(Linux)
>       import Glibc
>     #else
>       import Darwin
>     #endif
>     ```
> As the set of operating systems evolve, one of these
> conditional imports
> needs to be updated. Instead of repeating this, make it
> available via a
> standard `Libc` module in the base Swift library.
> Swift-evolution thread: [Discussion thread topic for that proposal]
> (https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20161003/027621.html)
> ## Motivation
> The [set of platforms]
> (https://github.com/apple/swift/blob/fdf6ee20e4ca1fd32482f4b7b88a97ebdda52cd2/lib/Basic/LangOptions.cpp#L26-L36)
> that Swift currently runs on can be divided into two; Darwin and XNU
> based systems
> (macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS), Windows, and Unix based systems
> (Linux, FreeBSD, Android, PS4).
> The base module on Darwin is called `Darwin`, while on Linux and
> other Unix systems the base module is called `Glibc`. The base
> module is typically conditionally included when working at a
> lower layer
> than Foundation (which has the same detail involved in importing the
> base module).
> As a result, conditionally importing the right version typically uses
> a conditional test based on the operating system, and the same code is
> seen in a number of different modules, both internal to Swift and
> external:
> * [Test for mmap in stdlib]
>   (https://github.com/apple/swift/blob/07b196d2f9a5facc490b35e3649e18937796239b/test/stdlib/mmap.swift#L4-L9)
> * [Validation test for PassIfChildCrashedDuringTestExecution]
>   (https://github.com/apple/swift/blob/c3b7709a7c4789f1ad7249d357f69509fb8be731/validation-test/StdlibUnittest/ChildProcessShutdown/PassIfChildCrashedDuringTestExecution.swift#L4-L9)
> * [Kitura's Socket definitions]
>   (https://github.com/IBM-Swift/BlueSocket/blob/49c5af8b6953cecc8674a7fcf746fa27a72c056a/Sources/Socket.swift#L21-L25)
> * [Vapor's HTTP Server]
>   (https://github.com/vapor/engine/blob/1f95094ee470408309e98dd56b2251210d6a2a3d/Sources/HTTP/Models/Server/HTTP%2BServer.swift#L1-L5)
> Some have already created a `Libc` module that effectively does
> what this
> proposal suggests, such as [Vapor's Core Libc]
> (https://github.com/vapor/core/blob/master/Sources/libc/libc.swift)
>     ```
>     #if os(Linux)
>       @_exported import Glibc
>     #else
>       @_exported import Darwin.C
>     #endif
>     ```
> Each of these examples has subtly different behaviour; for example,
> whether or not the os tests only include Linux (and then fail over to
> Darwin), or whether they contain other Unices such as FreeBSD and
> Android.
> ## Proposed solution
> The solution is to formalise these patterns in the base Swift library
> and present a `Libc` module that conditionally imports `Glibc` or
> `Darwin`
> based on the correct platform. Additional operating systems can
> be added
> and kept up to date with the list of supported operating system
> conditionals
> and including a failure message when an unknown operating system is
> detected.
> ## Detailed design
> This will add a `Libc` module for the standard library that re-exports
> the correct import depending on the operating system:
>     ```
>     #if os(macOS) || os(iOS) || os(tvOS) || os(watchOS)
>       @_exported import Darwin
>     #elseif os(Linux) || os(FreeBSD) || os(Android) || os(PS4)
>       @_exported import Glibc
>     #else
>       fatalError("Libc not supported on operating system")
>     #endif
>     ```
> As new operating systems are added or become supported (such as
> Windows)
> the standard imports can be added appropriately to this module.
> ## Source compatibility
> There is no impact to source compatibility, since this proposal is
> additive.
> Existing source code will work regardless of if this module is
> used or not.
> However it improves source compatibility going forwards, since as new
> operating systems are added this file will be updated, instead of
> the change
> having to be made in multiple open-source projects.
> ## Effect on ABI stability
> There is no impact to ABI compatibility, since this proposal is
> additive.
> Existing source code will work regardless of if this module is
> used or not.
> ## Effect on API resilience
> There is no impact to ABI resilience, since this proposal is additive.
> Existing source code will work regardless of if this module is
> used or not.
> ## Alternatives considered
> The first alternative is to do nothing. Existing Swift projects
> already
> conditionally import these modules, or import a higher-level
> module (such
> as `Foundation`) that performs the conditional import.
> The second alternative is to export sub-modules of the modules. Clang
> permits imports of sub-modules, so it could be possible to import only
> `Darwin.POSIX` and `GlibC.POSIX`. However, in Swift, importing a
> sub-module
> makes the whole module available anyway, so the difference between
> importing
> a whole module versus a submodule is irrelevant.
> The third alternative is to explore creating standard functions
> (in Swift)
> corresponding to POSIX functionality, but where the format of
> the return
> results are known. This would require a per-operating system
> binding to
> expose operating-system details such as the byte ordering of
> structures
> as used in the various `getaddrinfo` calls. These may evolve out
> of future
> evolution proposals and this does not conflict with those goals at
> this
> stage. There are additional clean-ups that this could address,
> such as the
> use of the (thread-local) `errno` which may not be reliably read
> from within
> Swift. However, the (swift-evolution thread)[
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20161003/027602.html]
> calls this "the perfect being the enemy of the good". Instead of
> trying to
> solve all of these problems, they should be handled by subsequent
> proposals (such as (Johannes' proposal)[
> https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20161031/028627.html]
> regarding errno handling sent to swift-evolution previously).
> _________________________________________________
> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
> https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-evolution
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