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Re: Status of install-info

From: Nicolas François
Subject: Re: Status of install-info
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2006 23:59:28 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11+cvs20060403


I'm keeping in CC the people who participated in the previous discussions:
 * GNU's install-info upstream
   bug-texinfo at gnu.org
   Karl Berry
   Eli Zaretskii
 * Debian's texinfo maintainer
   Norbert Preining
 * debhelper (dh_installinfo) maintainer
   Joey Hess
 * dpkg maintainers
   debian-dpkg at lists.debian.org
   Ian Zimmerman (I think you're also on the list, sorry)

Two issues were raised in the previous threads:
 * dpkg's i-i do not support the new info format (with multiple sections)
 * corruption of the dir file, and the need of re-building the info
   database from scratch.

I'm focusing on the first issue, and I think the right way to fix this
issue is to use the GNU's i-i on Debian. I also think this issue will be
easier to fix before Etch (no need for a policy change or change in the
way info uses its database)

Other ideas were presented in the recent threads regarding install-info.
One of then was to have an option to re-generate the dir file. I think
this will require a transition for most packages using info files. If you
think this should be done (and if this can be done for Etch), then the
content of this mail is mostly useless. (Ian did you start working on
--update-dir-from-info-files in the GNU's i-i)

I made an experiment on my box with an install-info perl script based on a
wrapper that calls the GNU install-info.

As expected by the previous "Status of install-info" mail, some of the
dpkg's i-i options are not supported. The ones that were noticed during my
test are: --remove-exactly, --menuitem, --description
(i.e. --test --debug and --keep-old were not encountered)

It was also expected that --section receives two arguments in dpkg, and
only one in the GNU's i-i. One issue is that
    install-info --section section infofile infodir
    install-info --section regex   section  infofile
are difficult to differentiate automatically.

In the wrapper, I used some heuristics to detect if the command line
expects a dpkg's or GNU's i-i. (see the beginning of the wrapper code)

I had to implement a --section-regex option in the GNU's i-i to mimic the
dpkg's i-i behaviour. Another solution could be to silently ignore the
regular expression provided to the dpkg's --section option.
(in fact, I'm not sure it's needed, and comments from Ian let me think
that this feature is quite disturbing)

In addition, I had to implement the --remove-exactly option. Otherwise,
--remove emacs-0.21/info also removes info.

Also, some info files (at least in Debian) do not contain any info items.
With dpkg's i-i, the --menuitem and --description options were used to
provide these missing items to i-i. In the GNU's i-i, the --item option
must be used (and the item is a concatenation of the menuitem, filename
and descritpion).
I've choosen to add a --item option when both --menuitem and --description
are used. But if --description is used alone, I'm discarding this option.
(This is the case for a few packages)

With the wrapper and the GNU's i-i changes, I could update all my packages
which distribute info files.

The only drawback I noticed at this time is that the descriptions are
not aligned, as mentionned by Ian Zimmerman.
(Note: I do prefer unaligned descriptions than missing items)
This issue could be solved in the GNU's i-i if needed.

Also there are no backups (with dpkg's i-i, the dir file was copied in
/usr/share/info/dir.old and in /var/backup/infodir.bak).

I think the wrapper could ease a transition from dpkg's i-i to the GNU's

Some questions:
 * How does the current GNU's i-i (or other distribution) solve the issue
   of removing emacs-21/info?
   Should we keep the --remove-exactly option? (Send it upstream?)
 * Is there a plan to implement a description alignment algorithm in the
   GNU's i-i? Do you think it will be mandatory to replace the dpkg's i-i?
 * Should we keep the --section-regex option? (Send it upstream?)
 * Do you think this wrapper could be a start for replacing in Debian the
   dpkg's i-i by the GNU's one?
   How does it fit with the Etch freeze?

Kind Regards,

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Attachment: install-info
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