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Re: deb-make

Ian Jackson writes:
> How did we manage to get into the situation where ... [debmake] ...
> became so quickly and with so little
> discussion wired into the guts of Debian's package management so
> deeply that we can't change it ?

Well, I'll provide one testimonial, in the spirit that this may be
helpful when future enhancements to debmake or other developments take place.

I think/hope that many people who understand the goals of the Debian project
are likely to want to contribute to it.  Figuring out how to do that has
been rocky in the past; I honestly believe that there would be a lot 
more scientific packages ported to the Debian GNU/Linux had that not
been the case.

Initially, all that existed (from my point of view) was a very active 
and sometimes meandering mailing list and a couple of packages which 
purported to 'tell all' with regard to how to build a package, but which 
always left major questions unanswered for me.  Then came the programmer's 
and policy manuals; these were a big step forward and filled in many 
details, though it would be very useful to try to incorporate the 
rationale behind some of the policies.  (People tend to remember 
rationale and act on it; they don't do so well with dictums, because
they don't immediately recognize the bigger picture into which those
dictums fit.)  But these documents' great virtue (their rich detail) 
was also an obstacle: it was difficult to get a sense from them about 
which were the most important considerations -- i.e., where to start.  

deb-make changed that.  It put just enough of the basic structure of
a package into place, and removed just enough drudgery, that one could 
begin to digest the policy and programmer's manuals, and have fun 
doing it.

I'm not writing this to discourage anyone from writing a replacement
deb-make or, for that matter, enhancing the existing deb-make -- but
just to point out why deb-make has been such a 'hit'.

Susan Kleinmann

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