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[Fwd: Re: Non-free, Contrib and CDs ]

Re: the current discussion on debian devel

>   Name             CD?    Criteria
>   ----             ---    --------
>   Main             Yes    Mainline Debian distribution
>                           Social Contract compatible
>   No-Export        No     US Export Restricted
>   No-Profit        No     Cannot be sold for profit
>   No-Sell          No     Cannot be sold, even for cost
>   Use-Restricted   Yes    Usage is restricted
>                           but can be sold for profit
>   Installers       Yes    Installers
>   Depends-Problem  Yes?   Depends on package in No-* areas

This is getting _way_ out of hand.  Have you looked at hamm's
directory structure lately?  It's rediculous!  There are so
many levels of indirection that it's impossible to find anything!
(I have to resort to find(1) to locate anything these days!)

This information could so much more easily be recorded as keywords
(once the Keywords header is added for deity).  This information
_is_ important, but is being encoded in a manner that isn't
appropriate.  For instance, if you change a package from X11 to
games, or free to non-free, or contrib to non-US at the very least
you are talking about moving the file several directories away,
if not to an entirely different ftp site!  In many cases in the past
this has meant that the package has existed in both places for months!
You should be able to update this info _without_ moving the file.

I think the ftp site should be organized so that it's easy to
mirror a portion of the archive.  However, how many people just
get contrib or just free and non-free?  I suspect the majority of
mirrors (certainly the ones I've seen or heard about) get all deb
packages for one architecture, or mirror just the free deb packages.
Breaking it down any further than that is silly.  I suspect most ftp
mirrors don't care about whether a deb is usage-restriced or not
(except possibly crypto stuff). This extra complexity just gives
the archive maintainer more work, and makes finding packages
by hand much more difficult.

As far as extracting this info (free, non-free, non-sell, whatever...)
is concerned for those who want it, I don't see why this info couldn't
be extracted from the new Keywords header in the Packages file with a
simple script.  This is precisely the sort of thing that the proposed
Keywords header is supposed to be used for.

Now that we have an Official Debian CD, we can mostly control what
people put on a Debian Cd.  And since more and more people are
upgrading by ftp (something that deity will, of coure, support) people
will probably be even less effected by any directory structure that
we keep the deb files in.

Look at all the people that use the debian directories: (the following
list is from the top of my head, so, I'm sure some of you could add to
it, as I've doubtlessly forgotten some)

1) Official cd manufacturers (Now that we have an Official Debian CD,
	cd manufacterers are spoon fed what should go onto a Debian cd.
	It doesn't matter where we keep our files on the archive,
	because we can include exactly what we want on the CD _for_them_).

2) Non-official cd manufacturers (As long as we have directories that
	make a distiction as to what goes on and what stays off a debian
	cd, these people should be able to take care of themselves.
	We should need no more that 2 hierarchies to provide this.
	Just something like "Debian_cd" and "Extra".  That's it.)

3) Debian Mirrors (Most of these will mirror the whole thing, or
	just one architecture.  Having 3-10 hierarchies just slows
	down the mirroring process and ensures that files will be
	moved often between directories creating more mirror work).

4) Personal Mirrors (Most people will mirror one or more architectures
	and possibly only mirror the "Debian_cd" portion.)

5) People installing Debian from CD with dselect/deity (They shouldn't
	really care what the directory structure is, because it's being
	hidden by the interface)

6) People installing Debian by hand from CD (They want to be able to
	find deb files without having to go 6-10 levels into the archive
	to find a file.)

7) People installing Debian from ftp with dselect/deity (They shouldn't
	really care the directory structure is, because it's being
	hidden by the interface)

8) People installing from whatever method that just want to install
	free packages (A script could extract this info from the
	Packages file.  Certainly deity will give the user the chance
	to restrict their choices to _only_ the free packages if they
	wish to do so.)

There is no case that I can think of (if we include Keywords) that
warrants splitting up the Debian archive into even the 3 hierarchies
we currently have let alone the additional 4-6 people seem to be

I mean, just think about all the time people spend arguing about which
directory a package goes into because their definitions are somewhat
ambiguous.  Just think how much worse it could be if we had 4-6 more!

Why not have 10 or so keywords that break down this classification to
everyone's satisfaction, without tripling the number of directories we
have.  It's not necessary to add more directories!

Life doesn't need to be so complicated!  Can't this one thing be simple?


I appologize if I've ruffled any feathers.  It's just the frustration
flooding out.


Behan Webster     mailto:behanw@verisim.com
+1-613-224-7547   http://www.verisim.com/

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