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Conway’s Law In Action

 
 
Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      03-02-2010
Yes, it can happen to Open Source, too. Though admittedly in this case it
happens to be PHP, which it has to be said is the Visual Basic of the Open
Source world.

Here’s an add-on patch to try to harden PHP against various attacks
<http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Spat-over-PHP-Suhosin-patch-943194.html>,
which has never been accepted into the PHP mainline. The Debian PHP
maintainers include it with their package. Turns out the patch has bad
assumptions about memory page sizes built into it, which causes crashes on
certain architectures. They try to get the author of the patch to address
these issues, but he doesn’t. So they try to fix it themselves, in a way
which, it turns out, negates most of the point of the patch. Which he,
belatedly, discovers. And so the finger-pointing begins.

So we have an inherently flawed attempt to fix holes in an inherently flawed
language, leading to predictable consequences that arise when you try to
patch up a complex system by adding more complexity, instead of addressing
the root of the problems.
 
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