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Re: policy on editor/pager support

On Tue, 7 Oct 1997, Christian Schwarz wrote:

> Hi folks!
> There was some discussion about how to implement the new "editor/pager" 
> policy on debian-policy the last days. A few people told me that they do
> not know this policy, so I'll explain it here.
> This topic is documented in Policy Manual, section 4.3 `Editors
> and pagers'. 
> The idea is simple: some programs require an editor or pager program to
> edit or display some file. The system administrator should have the
> possibility to specify which editor/pager should be used as default. The
> user should be able to override this. 
> Here's how we implement this:
>   - Programs launching an editor or pager:
>     When a program needs to start an editor/pager, it should check for the
> environment variables EDITOR/PAGER first. If these or not set, it should
> fall back to the programs /usr/bin/{editor,pager}
>     Since this is hard to implement in some programs, two simple shell
> scripts have been provided: /usr/bin/sensible-{editor,pager} (They simply
> check for the env vars and fall back to /usr/bin/{editor,pager}) 
> These scripts can be used as editor/pager in the program.
>   - Packages providing an editor or pager:
>     Every package which installs an editor/pager that's suitable for
> /usr/bin/{editor,pager} should provide an `alternative' via the
> `update-altenatives' script.

This seems much more complex than necessary. I don't see any reason that
EDITOR and PAGER can't be guaranteed to exist on the system. (Have the
base system provide them in /etc/profile)

The update-alternatives method requires that the program as permission to
install itself as the "default", adding additional questions to the
installation proceedure.

It is my feeling that this policy was not discussed in an adequate
fashion. The fact that it made it into the policy manual without much
review is troublesome to me. We need a better method for solidifying a
proposed policy than the one we are using at the moment.

Waiting is,

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