Side project retrospective
I spent 7 months building a project (hosted here). Goal: make a fastest known user/group NSS database. I succeeded, kinda. Here is an excerpt from a conclusion I wrote this morning:
This is the fastest known NSS passwd/group implementation for *reads*. On a corpus with 10k users, 10k groups and 500 average members per group, `id` takes 17 seconds with the glibc default implementation, 10-17 milliseconds with a pre-cached `nscd`, ~8 milliseconds with `turbonss`.
Guess what? It is fastest, but not by enough (compared to nscd) to matter.
In lines of code:
=========================================================================== Language Files Lines Code Comments Blanks =========================================================================== Markdown 3 522 0 422 100 Zig 23 5560 4601 242 717 =========================================================================== Total 26 6082 4601 664 817 ===========================================================================
This enterprise reminds me of a project I did back at Amazon: I set out to write a faster and more memory efficient throttling daemon (an API-compatible CoralThrottle replacement). It took me ~1 month to build something that can be meaningfully compared. Then while comparing the two I discovered that CoralThrottle was not configured correctly on our environment. When I fixed that, my implementation was even slower (to be expected!) than the upstream one.
Story repeats itself.
How was it?
Loads of fun! I learned Zig quite a bit, contributed to the stdlib. I can comfortably say that it is an amazing language for systems programming. The best parts are C interop and comptime.
The initial motivation cooled down after 1-2 months, then I needed discipline to get back to it. After 5 months of work I did not even start writing the system integration part, so for a very long time I had nothing but unit tests to see the progress.
I did not let myself start another project until this is finished. That was my way to keep the “motivation” up. Now, on the morning of Sunday, 2022-08-21, it is finished.
I will weather-proof the furniture in my terrace. :)
On a serious note, I don’t know what I will do with computers “on the side”. Maybe something with maps, finally. You will find it here.