Wireshark-dev: Re: [Wireshark-dev] Lua 5.3
From: João Valverde <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2016 15:56:40 +0100

On 08/19/2016 02:54 PM, Peter Wu wrote:
On Mon, Aug 08, 2016 at 09:17:35PM +0100, João Valverde wrote:

On 08/08/2016 05:58 PM, Pascal Quantin wrote:
Hi João,

2016-08-08 18:52 GMT+02:00 João Valverde
<[email protected]
<mailto:[email protected]>>:

    Is moving to Lua 5.3 something we should look into?

    The 64 bit integer support seems really promising.

Hariel explained us that Lua 5.3 was a completely different language (a
bit like what you have between Python 2.X and 3.X). You can find much
more info (from people knowing what they are taling about - so not me
;)) in bug 10881.


Thanks for that Pascal. The only sane way to approach the issue IMHO is to
accept that this may and probably will break backward compatibility (not
even think about supporting 5.1 or 5.2) and just consider whether that break
is justified (hint: it is).
Why is it justified to break backwards compatibility and move from 5.2
to 5.3 without the ability to chose for 5.2? What is the killer feature
of 5.3 that makes it totally worth to possibly break older dissectors?

The disadvantage of C plugins is that it had to be recompiled for newer
versions. With a move from 5.2 to 5.3 and also removing GRegex and bitop
you make it quite likely to break Lua dissectors in some way.

I have once written a Lua library in C, interfacing with Libgcrypt for
which I studied the Lua manual. The API changes with 5.3 were not that
significant if I remember correctly (though you have to be careful with
providing a compatibility layer), but the ABI is certainly not

In the recent proposed patches, you seem to have no issues with breaking
backwards compatibility. Have you developed Lua dissectors before?
Breaking things for the sake of "shiny, new, future" is not an
acceptable motivation, there must be something more appealing to justify
such breakage. Having 64-bit integer support, but taking away the bitop
library is a net loss without even considering the other factors.

Doesn't Lua 5.3 provide native bit operators? If so there is not net 
loss of functionality. That was my reasoning at least.
The language incompatibilities between 5.2 and 5.3 are minor. The 
wireshark API is exactly the same.
LPeg is more powerful and Lua-thonic than lrexlib, but there is a 
learning curve for that, no doubt. For anyone relying on lrexlib, it's a 
significant break. We can keep lrexlib, that's not a problem and it is 
orthogonal to the other changes.
As far as killer features go, besides the obvious, how about better 
UTF-8 support?
I don't have time for a more detailed answer right now but I'd like to 
say I think this change is entirely justified but I also completely 
understand disagreeing with that opinion.