Haiku monthly activity report - 06/2019

Blog post by PulkoMandy on Thu, 2019-07-11 10:52

Hey, it's time for a new monthly report already! This one is a bit shorter than usual as the previous one was a bit late, but let's try to get mostly back on schedule. This report covers hrev53175-hrev53238.


We are now in beta phase, and besides the usual bugfixes, it's time to start investigating performance bottlenecks in Haiku. Waddlesplash has been hard at work in that area this month, starting with tuning of the newly integrated rpmalloc allocator.

He also started benchmarking the uses of the allocator and found various opportunities to save memory, and use dedicated object caches instead of the generic malloc allocator, helping reduce memory fragmentation. The first patches have just started to land (in packagefs), there will likely be more. Ideally beta2 will be able to boot and install with 256MB of RAM or maybe even less thanks to this work.

Meanwhile, waddlesplash is also auditing the code and starting to work towards making APIs more restricted (allowing some things only for the root user, for example), in order to provide some more privilege separation. Haiku has so far been largely a single user system, and did not worry too much about the usual attack vectors for an UNIX system. But modern computers are often online and we should try to keep our user's data reasonably safe. We have a long way to go, but we have to start with something.


Sometimes a lot of the work isn't about exciting new features, but the attention to detail and little polishing here and there, that really makes a difference to users.

Waddlesplash continues to work on improving error reporting from the package management system. HaikuDepot will now notify you if one of the packages you installed requires a reboot (usually when core system packages were updated in the process).

PulkoMandy reworked the alert that shows when a program has crashed. It now features a specific icon (of, appropriately, a bug), and more importantly uses a different layout with radio buttons instead of checkboxes, making it easier to use longer text for the different available actions. This will help some translators who were struggling to fit the text on screen in the previous layout.

PulkoMandy also removed the annoying tooltip that would get in the way when Terminal was in fullscreen, indicating the shortcut to get out. Instead a button has been added to the tab bar, as is done in Wonderbrush and WebPositive in similar situations.

Fabio Tomat contributed a Friulian keyboard and is now working on localizing Haiku to this language used in northern Italy.

New architectures

Kallisti5 is currently working on the RISC-V and ARM ports. As part of this work, he upgraded our compiler to GCC 8 and binutils to the latest 2.32. This was an opportunity to cleanup some problems in the ARM port involving a statically linked libstdc++. It's now possible to get the bootstrap packages built, but the build of Haiku itself hits more similar linking problems later on. For now the workaround is to use LLD (from llvm/clang) instead of the traditional ld linker.

On the RISC-V side, the focus is currently on getting our libc to include at least enough support for the "long double" type that we can link it. "long double" is a different type on many architectures (ARM uses 64 bit, x86 uses 96, and sparc and ppc both use 128 bits but with different formats). RISC-V could either use the same format as sparc, or use 64bit types like ARM, but in either case, we need to import some support files from glibc into our C library, and they don't integrate that easily.

For both architectures, the docker container including all the needed dependencies was also updated (it was missing some things). This may make it easier to start hacking on these new platforms if you don't want to install the dependencies manually (which is also perfectly possible).

Waddlesplash and kallisti5 also worked on updating the set of bootstrap packages, keeping it more in line with what we ship currently for x86.


No one likes it when their apps crashes, so let's catch all the bugs!

Kerwizzy finished the rework of Mandelbrot to fix various race conditions and missing intializations, so it should be a lot harder to crash now. Have fun exploring some fractals!

Axeld fixed a problem in the BFS block allocator that could result in a panic attempting to mount a corrupt volume.

Waddlesplash continues his work on the XHCI driver, continuing to clean it up and squash bugs. He also made some improvements to the nvme driver, to better manage errors and improve performance.

jscipione made some fixes to the buildsystem to attempt to get it working again on MacOS. We are currently stuck with a problem of case insensitiveness, despite using a case-sensitive filesystem it seems the preprocessor is mixing up String.h with string.h.

PulkoMandy and korli fixed an issue in the USB serial port driver which occasionally crashed the system when switching between different ports.

korli also fixed a problem in the "console" driver (which allows to show KDL and Debugger when app\_server crashes) to avoid a crash when multiple programs are trying to use the console at the same time.

System libraries

Waddlesplash added a missing "noreturn" attribute to the declaration of exit() in the C library, indicating to the compiler that this function indeed never returns to the caller. This allows to build SDL without warnings. Thanks to Ryan from the SDL team for reporting the problem!

mt fixed many instances of the -Wformat warning, making sure our formatted print work correctly on all architectures.