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Re: A registry for distributed sources and binaries

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: Re: A registry for distributed sources and binaries
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2016 01:29:20 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.95 (gnu/linux)

Pjotr Prins <address@hidden> writes:

> How about the following:
> 1. Separate from the GNU project, we create a number of registries of
>    online git repos without opinion (i.e., anything goes, it is up to
>    the authors). A registry can contain the work of multiple packages
>    and multiple authors.
> 2. Each repo in the registry can create package definitions online

The major problem with this proposal is that, to the extent it became
popular, it would drastically reduce the freedom we have to change Guix
itself.  We would need to start considering whether our changes might
break externally maintained packages.  A large proportion of our
internal procedures and macros would effectively become a public API.
We would no longer be able to freely make changes to the way packages
are specified, or make incompatible changes to the procedures and macros
used in package definitions on the client or build sides.  We would be
greatly constrained in our ability to make changes to the default phases
in our build systems.

Our core packages and most of our library packages would also
effectively be part of this API.  We would no longer be able to freely
do things like split packages into smaller pieces or multiple outputs.

Long ago, the Linux developers made a conscious decision to not support
out-of-tree drivers, for much the same reasons.  Many times over the
years, they have made changes to their internal APIs that required
corresponding changes to a large number of drivers.  As a result, they
have been able to keep their internal interfaces clean and free of
backward-compatibility cruft.

It's crucially important to the future vitality of this project that we
retain our freedom to evolve the design of Guix, the way packages are
specified in Guix, as well as the set of core packages.  These freedoms
will be drastically curtailed if we support a decentralized system of
externally-managed repositories.  Therefore, we must not do this.

What do other people think?


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