RIP userdevfs

... and good riddance

Just over 10 years ago now (it really has been that long), I had a first stab at adding some code to debian-installer to support m68k machines. As part of that, I invented userdevfs, a d-i module which would grep dmesg to figure out which hardware is detected, and would dynamically generate /dev entries based on that. It made it possible to use debian-installer without too much trouble on kernels that didn't support autoloading of modules (d-i expects the absense of a /dev entry to signal the absense of hardware), while our m68k kernel hadn't gone beyond 2.2 still; but it was always a bit of an ugly hack.

At the time, I saw it as a short-time necessary evil. When the m68k port had been kicked from Debian, I would probably have thrown it out. Had it never been kicked from Debian, all else being equal, I would probably still have kicked it given a chance, since 2.6 kernels can now be run on m68k machines. All that is not true, though, since in the mean time my ugly hack had been repurposed to also work on ports that did support 2.6 and more recent kernels, but did not support autodetecting hardware. As such, it's still in recent Debian releases.

Today, however, I noticed #717872, signalling that as the one port where it was still needed no longer did, my ugly hack has finally found its demise.

That is a good thing.