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packaging questions

I have recently renewed my interest in working on some numerical
software from netlib. For those of you not familiar with
netlib, it is a repository for numerical software which is
in common use in many areas of the sciences (primarily
physics and engineering).

There are two issues in packaging software from this site that
aren't dealt with well in the documentation.  Although well tested,
the code is not well organized and in working on a logical
structure for creating libraries, it is necessary to take files
from a number of locations. In one case, slatec, there are
about 3 or 4 packages that would be created from the source.
To further complicate matters, files are often duplicated (or
have slightly different versions) in more than one place.
Also, some of the source is only available as a shell archive.
As you can see, it is a bit of a mess and makes me want
to totally ignore Debian policy and simply make packages as
if they are original Debian packages, i.e. no .diff files.
What do others think about this?
Note that this software is very mature (most written in the
1970s) and doesn't change very often.

The second issue has to do with shared and static libraries.
Since this code is primarily used by people doing research,
everyone will be compiling their own executables.
Also, most people would either want to use static libs to
get that tiny bit of extra speed or couldn't be bothered
learning how to create executables linked against shared libs
(if this sounds crazy to you then you've never been to graduate
school in engineering).
What do people think of the idea of creating a package with only
static libraries, i.e. a library package without a -dev version and
no shared libs? Another issue in favor of this is the size
of the libraries, e.g. the shared library for lapack is almost
3M in size. Only having one version of the library will save
a lot of space.

- Sue

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