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Bug#614907: Draft resolution for node+nodejs

On Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 12:52:39PM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> Sorry this is so long in coming.  Here's the draft resolution for this
> issue, agreed at the last IRC meeting.
> I thought about including a statement censuring nodejs upstream for their
> unhelpful behavior around this issue, but we didn't actually discuss that at
> the IRC meeting so I don't know if there's a consensus and don't want to
> hold this up any further.

Situations like the one in this bug really have no terribly satisfactory
answer.  Whatever we do (including nothing!), some users are likely to
end up being inconvenienced.  I don't know how much issuing a censure
would achieve - we can say it all we like, and I might well agree, but
if they were going to pay attention then my suspicion is that we
wouldn't have had this problem in the first place! - but I think it
would be useful to take this situation as an opportunity to remind the
wider free software world about the importance of playing nicely with
the command namespace in the hope of reducing future problems.  If this
were picked up by technical news outlets then it might actually be a
vaguely useful thing to do.

I understand why you didn't want to hold up your resolution text on
anything along these lines.  Still, we can quite reasonably vote on such
a statement independently.

I'd like to suggest a statement under §6.1.5 along the following lines:

  The Technical Committee notes that the namespace of executable
  commands on $PATH is a resource shared among everyone writing software
  for POSIX-compatible systems, and that the combinations of packages
  that users may choose to install on a given system can easily surprise
  the authors of those packages.

  The Committee advises anyone writing widely-deployed software to
  consider its command name carefully at an early stage.  It is a good
  idea to search the web for your proposed name and try to ensure that
  it is unique.  It is likely to be a bad idea to use excessively short
  names or common words.  The conflict between LinuxNode and Node.js
  demonstrates that taking a little time early on can avoid a great deal
  of tedium later.

  The Committee furthermore reminds Debian Developers that they are in
  an excellent position to assist upstream authors with identifying and
  resolving conflicts at an early stage, and that they should do so as
  soon as possible rather than deferring the problem until later and
  thus entrenching the naming conflict.

> === Resolution ===
> The Technical Committee reaffirms the importance of preventing namespace
> collisions for programs in the distribution, while recognizing that
> compatibility with upstreams and with previous Debian releases is also
> important and that sometimes an imperfect balance must be struck between
> these three goals.
> The Committee therefore resolves that:
> 1. The nodejs package shall be changed to provide /usr/bin/nodejs, not
>    /usr/bin/node.  The package should declare a Breaks: relationship with
>    any packages in Debian that reference /usr/bin/node.

For consistent tense, I think s/should/shall/.

> 2. The nodejs source package shall also provide a nodejs-legacy binary
>    package at Priority: extra that contains /usr/bin/node as a symlink to
>    /usr/bin/nodejs.  No package in the archive may depend on or recommend
>    the nodejs-legacy package, which is provided solely for upstream
>    compatibility.  This package declares shall also declare a Conflicts:
>    relationship with the node package.

Typo: probably just "This package shall also declare".

Also, my apologies if this has been discussed already as I'm coming to
this discussion very late, but isn't this a fairly rough transition?  If
I were designing this, there would be a period whereby users of the
existing nodejs binary package are upgraded to a system with both nodejs
and nodejs-legacy, to minimise breakage.

If this has been discussed already and refuted for some reason, feel
free to point me at the messages I missed.

> 3. The node source package shall rename its binary to /usr/sbin/ax25-node,
>    and its binary package to ax25-node.
> 4. The node source package shall continue to build a transitional 'node'
>    binary package for compatibility with deployed Debian installations,
>    which provides /usr/sbin/node as a symlink to /usr/sbin/ax25-node.  This
>    package shall declare a reciprocal Conflicts: relationship with the
>    nodejs-legacy package.  Other packages may reference the 'node' package
>    as a dependency or recommendation, but are encouraged to transition to
>    'ax25-node'.

By contrast, this is a much smoother transition.

Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson@debian.org]

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