Yenya's World

Thu, 16 Nov 2006

Up-to-date Knowledge

It took me a while to figure out that prelink changed my executable files and libraries yesterday, and that RPM is now prelink-aware. Vašek added an interesting comment to which I want to reply in this blog post:

Yes, prelink. It shoud be written at the top of rpm man page (maybe also bold and red) that prelink modifies binaries and RPM knows about it. Most people find differences and then hunt ghosts - just like you. I only wonder how a guru like you do not know this. :-)

Well, the simple answer is that I am by no means a guru :-) The more complicated answer is that I learned RPM long ago (pretty indepth, I even wrote a series of articles about it), when it did not have a prelink support.

This is a general problem with the IT knowledge: it is often not so hard to gain the knowledge, but it is much harder to keep up with ongoing changes. I think it is because there are manuals and tutorials for beginners, but almost nothing about what has changed in - for example - last two years. I don't count Changelogs, because they are clogged with changes at the micro-architectural level, which are of no interest after a year or two.

It is hard to keep the knowledge up-to-date even when you actually still use the system in question: I build RPM packages occasionally, yet this was the first time I came into the prelink support of RPM. It is the same with Perl, for example. I use Perl almost daily, yet many features used in Perl Best Practices were new for me (such as using "our $var;" instead of "use vars qw($var);").

Also, in this particular case it would not probably helped to have a big fat warning near the top of the rpm(1) manpage - I think I would not consult this manpage in this situation. Using strace(1) is more general :-). Keeping the knowledge up-to-date is pretty hard - for example, I skip most of content of the Linux Journal, because it in a lengthy ways repeats what I already know, and should there be anything new for me, it is deeply buried in facts I already know.

How do you keep up with the current development in IT, my dear lazyweb?

Section: /personal (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 2 writebacks

2 replies for this story:

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

I gave up to know everything long time ago. For example - last time i have been making idiot from myself, when I was saying that "for i in *;" is not safe because of maximal command line length. These thing happens, especially to me. :-)

Milan Zamazal wrote:

ANSI Common Lisp hasn't been changed yet since it was adopted and user visible changes in Emacs are carefully documented in the NEWS file. So there's no problem to keep up with the most important development in IT. :-)) Seriously, you are lucky you just don't keep up with new development, there are pieces of free software that are hard to avoid to use (such as some hardware drivers) and that don't contain real documentation at all, so it's difficult to get any knowledge about them. I try to do two things to make things better: 1. keeping manuals of the software I write up to date including documenting user visible changes in NEWS; 2. documenting some of my user experience on my web pages so that other users had at least chance to find useful information on internet and not to repeat the hard way.

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