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Re: OT - Packages maintaining source for systems no longersupported [WAS

From: Andreas Buening
Subject: Re: OT - Packages maintaining source for systems no longersupported [WAS: Re: Portability of preprocessor directives]
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2003 22:41:17 +0100

Earnie Boyd wrote:
> Andreas Buening wrote:
> > Earnie Boyd wrote:


> > What do you consider a hobbyist system?
> One that the vendor no longer supports and supplies fixes for and I as a
> maintainer of the software no longer have no access to test it myself.
> If it's not even tested how can it be used?  It has a high probability
> of not working anyway!


> > I remember Debian hit the 8000 package limit some time
> > ago. How many of the software packages you use for your daily work
> > do you really test? 1000? 100? I guess, it's less. Much less.
> > If it's just 1 then you do much more than 99.x% of all people do.
> > Having no tester for a specific system doesn't mean there are no users.
> Well, if the package works for the maintainer and he rolls that out as a
> production release but it works for no one else because no one has an
> enviroment like the maintainers then the package will only have one
> user.  It is impossible for a package maintainer to test all
> combinations of environment.  He can do his best to try not to break the
> workings of the program for a particular system, but if no one is using
> that system anyway why continue to support it?  At that moment of
> realization it's time to prune support for that system from the code.

That's great. You mean if you don't get any feedback by any AIX user
you'll remove the

#ifdef AIX
# include<sys/select.h>

or similar lines from the code so that it definitely won't compile any
more even if it did before? Why don't you just write portable code and
keep any "#ifdef HAVE_FOO" and "#ifdef SysBlurb" directives? Maybe you
get no feedback because the code works for SysBlurb. And if it doesn't
the next person on SysBlurb doesn't need to start from scratch.


> I take it from your tone that you are a user and not a participant in
> open source?

I take it from your tone that you've never been a user of a non standard
Unix system without root permission who just wanted to install simple
open source software.

> I take it from your tone that you don't want your programs
> to stop working but that you aren't willing to put effort into making
> sure that doesn't happen beyond spouting words?

I take it from your tone that you've never tried to compile and install
an open source software that didn't compile out of the box because
- the build system insists to use silly compilers or flags instead
  of the available gcc,
- the build system insists in writing to /usr/local where you have no
  permission to,
- the build system insists in using some undocumented tools you've never
  heard of (and which aren't installed),
- the build system doesn't support things like extra-includedirs or
- you have to analyse Makefiles to find out how to tell that damn system
  to obey your commands, or even to learn new programming languages
  to find out what that code is supposed to do,
- you need several tools or libraries or special versions thereof
  (which are not installed, of course),
- the software uses some hardcoded paths you have to patch manually,
- the maintainer tells you it works well for him, and that's all
  you'll hear from him.

To answer your question: Yes, I absolutely would like to _use_ some
software _without_ doing some try & error bug searching of some
undocumented piece of something.

> I take it from your
> tone that you think the maintainer of code should keep code in his
> source files that someone someday maybe might use again on the pretense
> that someone used it once and it maybe someday just might be done that
> way again?


> Ridiculous!  If the code isn't being used then remove it.

Which you obviously can conclude from the nonexisting bug reports,
I guess? Most people can't tell you what's wrong or even write patches.
Without your (the maintainer's) help they can just tell you that
"it doesn't work". And submitting bug reports without patches for non
standard systems is quite useless, IMHO. In most cases no maintainer
wants to waste his time on that problem.



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