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Re: Review of pros and cons of package managers including Guix

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: Review of pros and cons of package managers including Guix
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2018 14:33:55 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.1 (gnu/linux)


swedebugia <address@hidden> skribis:

> I stumpled upon this today:

This web page is very weak IMO, which is a bit sad.

> "Cannot handle filetypes that have different semantics across
> different versions
> While the functional approach that Guix takes is great for sandboxing
> binary artifacts of packages, it seriously lacks any power in handling
> configuration files or user data. It's difficult to upgrade and
> downgrade files where semantics and syntax can change between
> versions."
> Do you agree with this critique?

Yes and no, it’s too vague to provide a definite answer.

On GuixSD (not Guix), configuration files of system services are
generated from a more abstract representation of the config in Scheme.
For instance, you define an ‘openssh-configuration’ object and from that
we generated ‘/etc/sshd_config’ or whatever it’s called.  In that sense,
users of GuixSD have the guarantee (modulo bugs of course) that the
generated configuration files use syntax that is compatible with the
service in use—in this case, OpenSSH.

The problem of “user data” is different.  If you have a system running
PostgreSQL and the on-disk database format changes, then indeed, you
won’t really be able to roll back to a previous GuixSD generations since
the old PostgreSQL may be unable to read the new on-disk format of the
database.  This is a known problem, but it’s not really specific to
GuixSD and NixOS; it’s just that the problem becomes visible precisely
because NixOS and GuixSD support rollbacks.


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