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Bug#994388: dpkg currently warning about merged-usr systems

On Tue, Mar 29, 2022 at 08:24:50AM +0200, Helmut Grohne wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 10:24:03PM +0100, Luca Boccassi wrote:
> > Also worth noting that a couple of days ago, the author wrote on
> > #debian-devel that some time ago the patch was presented to the dpkg
> > maintainer, who rejected it with an answer along the lines of the usual
> > "usrmerge is broken by design", with no further comment.
> That is unfortunate. If I remember correctly, there was some more
> concrete criticism that is still entirely unaddressed in the current
> form.
> dpkg is both a Debian package and an upstream project used by multiple
> distributions with different needs. Guillem generally cares for the
> needs of other distributions. As a result, dpkg separates policy from
> mechanism in a lot of places. The patch at hand however fully
> intermingles them. Which directories are to be aliased could be a
> vendor-specific configuration and should be encoded as such. That kind
> of separation of concerns has not happened at all.

The easy way to get out of that would be to generalize the issue,
probably somewhere along the line of having a configurable (sic!) list
of lists of directories that are to be treated equally. Unfortunately,
my programming skille as nowhere as good as that I would dare to lay my
hands on a C program as important as dpkg.

> > So, what is the next step? Will the those on this thread who asserted
> > they think a correct patch would be accepted without issues try and
> > take it forward themselves?
> I don't think anyone claimed that incomplete patches would go in without
> issues.  Much to the contrary. My experience with sending patches to
> dpkg is that they do go through multiple rounds due to high quality
> feedback. The problem I see here is that communication between patch
> author and dpkg maintainer does not work and thus no progress is being
> made. To be honest, the current form of the patch is a testament of how
> poorly the /usr-merge proponents have spent the last five years on an
> issue that was known for more than ten years.

Communication with the dpkg maintainer is sometimes difficult. I
remember having some issues with the --path-exclude option that were so
bizarre that I didn't even grok whether this was a code or a
documentation issue, getting terse answers to my question and eventuell
no answers at all. I eventually stopped using the feature, and frankly,
have given up on understanding dpkg entirely.

I am writing this because I understand that being a package maintainer
is not only about technical skills such as coding and documenting, it is
also a communicative challenge, and when you're maintaining a core
program like dpkg is, you need to be even more communicative because so
many people want things from you. It is not the smartest idea to lock
yourself in the cellar and just communicate by doing software releases.

> There is a social aspect here that is presently failing hard.

Yes :-(


Marc Haber         | "I don't trust Computers. They | Mailadresse im Header
Leimen, Germany    |  lose things."    Winona Ryder | Fon: *49 6224 1600402
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