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Re: question re. packaging, build, init and shepherd

From: Miles Fidelman
Subject: Re: question re. packaging, build, init and shepherd
Date: Thu, 9 May 2019 17:22:20 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.12; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/60.6.1

Ok... a few follow-on questions (in-line):

On 5/9/19 1:03 PM, Christopher Baines wrote:

Miles Fidelman <address@hidden> writes:

The GUIX documentation is great when it comes to installing GUIX, and
then installing packaged software.

It's not so clear on how do install software that isn't in the package
repository - whether by creating a package, or via the classic
./configure;make;make install, or if there are tools that can bring
classically installed software under package management (e.g., the
Debian alien tool).
I can't really think of a situation where creating a package would be a
bad approach, and the manual does describe this. There's also the
packaging tutorial blog post [1]


I think there could indeed be a lack of guidance about where do perhaps
deviate from the instructions or common steps for installing software.

Taking the shepherd as an example, the INSTALL file distributed with the
source contains the common: './configure && make && make install'

Ok.. see that.  So it basically does what one would do manually, following the instructions in the configure & make files.

With a Guix System, that would probably work, at least initially. But
you'd be missing out on some of the advantages Guix packages offer, and
would possibly run in to problems with garbage collection.

As Guix doesn't really have binary packages like Debian, there isn't
really the possibility of a Alien like tool. The dependencies between
the "binary" package forms are very strict, using exact store paths,
which would make generating a package to slot in to a system difficult.

And then there's the question of init systems:  Until systemd came
along, ./configure;make;make install generally just works - leaving
init files in the right places, starting up daemons, etc.

Which leads to the question of, if I want to install something
complicated in GUIX - say the Sympa list manager (to pick a non-random
example), which comes with standard sysvinit scripts - can I just
./configure;make;make install?  Does Shepherd do the right thing with
sysvinit scripts?  Can I invoke them through Shepherd (e.g, after a
config change)?  Can I still edit & invoke the init scripts in the
classic ways (vi, /etc/init.d/<foo> restart).
The configuration of the shepherd is normally entirely managed through
your Guix operating-system definition. The configuration is generated in
te store, and shepherd looks at that.

This is important as it allows you to boot in to previous generations of
your system, which is useful for recovering the system if things go

So, whereas I think things like systemd are aware of sysvinit scripts in
the usual place, the shepherd is completely unaware.

So... that kind of leaves out automatically setting up servers. I mean, most server software still comes with init files, maybe with systemd or other init files, but generally make install sets things up so that servers start & run.

So how does GUIX support this?

And, for that matter, how does GUIX handle any kind of post-install configuration?  E.g., the kind of things that debconf might be used for.


Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra

Theory is when you know everything but nothing works.
Practice is when everything works but no one knows why.
In our lab, theory and practice are combined:
nothing works and no one knows why.  ... unknown

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