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Re: [OT] Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: Arch hooks

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: Arch hooks
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2003 12:45:30 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1001 (Gnus v5.10.1) XEmacs/21.4 (Portable Code, linux)

>>>>> "Andrew" == Andrew Suffield <address@hidden> writes:

    >> Exactly.  But the point is that all of this is
    >> user-inaccessible because it's written in an obscure little
    >> language implemented in Perl.  Might as well be compiled to
    >> machine code most of the time.

    Andrew> Only apacheconfig is perl, and the problem there is really
    Andrew> that it's a useless piece of poorly written crap. Not sure
    Andrew> what you mean here.

ah -- the dpkg/info scripts are shell scripts, aren't they.  But both
apacheconfig and debconf are Perl.

    >> And fixing that is explicitly a design non-goal.  We're trying
    >> to appeal to the Macintrash/Windoze/GookTK crowd,

    Andrew> I'm not sure who you're talking about there, but it sure
    Andrew> isn't Debian.

What is debconf all about, then?  And defoma?  AFAICS from the
questions they ask, these are deliberate attempts to dumb things down
to a series of yes/no questions, not to make things sensible.  Both of
these regularly get forced on me (in sid) and stuff breaks on a weekly
basis, most recently Ghostscript suddently stopped being able to
handle Japanese, with no warning and no way to figure out what
happened.  It took years to get the "diff" option added to the debconf
stuff; the next real improvement in that direction will probably also
take years.  :-(

OTOH, that "if you use xinetd you'll have to port by hand" message has
been there for a year or more.  I can live with that.

    Andrew> That should make it go away. There's usually a way, you
    Andrew> just have to know where to kick stuff.

And how is someone who hasn't worked on debconf supposed to know?
Both debconf and debmake (or whatever has all the dh_* tools) are "no
user servicable parts".  I've hacked a few lines of kernel, I've
hacked a few lines of Emacs, I've hacked a few lines of Ghostscript,
I've hacked a few lines of Python, I've hacked a few lines of X11.
I'm not afraid of big source trees.  But the debstuff defeats me.

    Andrew> dexconf is a tricky one.  In principle it's a nice idea,

Really?  I have never seen any utility that can do half as good a job
as XFree86 -configure does.  On the platforms I have available, of

What is the dexconf idea?  According to the man page, it's to
substitute asking an external database for asking the hardware (even
though according to the manpage it's not a satisfactory substitute!)
This is a nice idea?

    Andrew> The latest (as in, last few weeks) should be a significant
    Andrew> improvement,

Nope.  I've updated twice since Sept 1, and both time the dexconf-
produced XF86Config wouldn't even boot X.  (I don't know if dexconf
changed, so it's probably the same bug both times.)

    Andrew> [It's difficult to give specific responses to general
    Andrew> stuff like this.

Of course it is.  I have workarounds for all my Debian issues; I do
check the bug database and report when I don't see a similar one.
(dexconf is different: its existence is a bug AFAICT.)

But I have to wonder if open source for everybody really makes sense
when even Debian seems incapable of producing user-servicable tools.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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