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Re: [bug-gnulib] ensure that generated files are read-only

From: Bruno Haible
Subject: Re: [bug-gnulib] ensure that generated files are read-only
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2006 15:36:00 +0200
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Jim Meyering wrote:
> I've always taken the stand that
> generated files should be read-only, and this is just another
> reason to follow that policy.

I'm vehemently opposed to such a change. On the contrary, I think the
policy should be that in a distrib tarball, _all_ files and directories
should be writable.

The reasons are:

1) For the user who unpacks and builds a package.
   When he wants to remove the package, he will do "rm -r coreutils-6.2".
   This will start asking questions. So he types Ctrl-C, and does
   "rm -rf coreutils-6.2". And next time he will possibly use "rm -rf"
   to avoid the problem.

   But "rm -rf" removes anything, without safety measures. If he makes
   a typo, he is hosed!

   So by declaring some files read-only, you are degrading the safety
   of users because they get accustomed to "rm -rf".

   In other words, IMO, the read-only status should be reserved to
   precious files.

2) For the user who needs to fix a compilation problem, or do minor
   developments in a package.

   In this case I _do_ want to change the Makefile or config.h, to see
   the results. Because if I change Makefile.am or *.m4, I will have to
   wait 5 minutes until aclocal, automake, autoheader, configure have
   completed their business. Or even worse, I will get errors because
   I don't have the "right" automake and autoconf versions installed.

   When I modify a Makefile and, when trying to save it, am told
   that I cannot save it, it's a major annoyance.

   Furthermore, people who have not yet understood the complete machinery
   don't know which file to modify to get a certain modification.
   Sometimes I get fix suggestions from people who hand-modified the
   'configure' file or so. If they are not able to do so, because
   'configure' is read-only, they will likely not send anything useful,
   maybe no bug report at all.

> Note that this does affect modules/* files owned by others.
> If anyone objects, I'll quickly revert the objectionable change.

Please revert. It is not acceptable for me to have read-only files in a
gettext or libiconv distribution.

> Bruno, would you mind if I changed the uses of "t-$@" to "address@hidden"
> in modules/localcharset?

Yes. The rule would not work right any more on 8+3 filesystems (DJGPP,
possibly also OS/2).


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