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Re: Comments on Debian packages and installation



On Mon, Jan 18, 1999 at 12:27:59PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > So our goals are:
> > 
> > 	* make a working, completely free system. ie, main.
> You're saying that the Suggests: links are not an official part
> of Debian?

I'm saying that the Suggests: links don't force you to have a non-free
system, nor do they make the system not work. They're an annoyance in
some cases, that's all.

Not that that's not something worth fixing -- it is. I use Debian
because it *doesn't* annoy me usually. But arguing that we're breaking
our social contract just because something's more annoying than it ought
to be seems to be going to far to me.

> > 	* add some support infrastructure for non-free software, to make
> > 	  it easy to use non-free software if our users want to.
> > We've done this.
> The current infrastructure requires that main contains links to stuff
> that's not in main.  A better (more in line with our social contract)
> infrastructure would allow those links to reside outside of main.  The
> technical side of this is being addressed by Ian Jackson.
> 
> The only problem is that some people are suggesting that the current
> solution is politically better.
> 
> ?

Really?

If so, I don't think I'm one of them, so I won't claim to know what `they'
want.

What /I/ want is to be able to continue seeing what non-free software
makes my computer work better. I'd also like this to be as easy to
maintain as it is now, if not more so.

> > Removing suggestions completely seems to go against that.
> That's a straw man.  We're talking about replacing some Suggests:
> with Enhances:

And this is probably why we're talking at cross-purposes. I thought,
in the message I replied to, that you were advocating removing the
suggestions rather than replacing them. My apologies.

> > Personally, I don't think moving solely to enhances: is the way to
> > go either -- it makes it too difficult for people to say `unzip is
> > helpful for making boot-floppies', and so on. Technical decisions are
> > meant to make life easier.
> Eh?  The only place where boot-floppies seems to use "unzip" is in
> /usr/src/boot-floppies/Makefile -- here it seems that, after the user
> is supposed to download some stuff from our ftp site, the makefile uses
> "unzip" to extract some things from a zip archive.
> 
> The real question is: why isn't that stuff also available in some
> alternative format?  Why have we chosen to distribute information only
> in a format that's not usable by people who only use DFSG Debian?

Some of the other packages in this situation:

	rsync suggests ssh

	inn suggests pgp
	kbackup suggests pgp
	kbackup-doc suggests pgp (the documentation for KBackup)
	tm suggests pgp (tm is a MIME package for Emacs)
	elm-me+ suggests pgp

...ie, things which don't have a free alternative just yet, but will RSN.

	mutt depends on gnupg or pgp or pgp5i
	fvwm2-plus suggests xv or xloadimage

...ie, things which /do/ have a satisfactory free alternative, and note it.
(What will happen here, btw? Does it stay as an or, or does the non-free
alternative get move to an Enhances? Even though it doesn't enhance mutt if
you installed gnupg?)

	mikmod suggests unzip, lha and zoo
		(ie, "If you like, I can deal with compressed stuff!")

...ie, a reasonably valid use, that would be annoying to move!! Woo! :)

	dpkg suggests developer-keyring (which is in contrib)
	dpkg-dev suggests developer-keyring
		these could probably be done the other way around
	transfig suggests netpbm-nonfree
		this could probably be done via netpbm-nonfree enhances netpbm

...ie, ones that work just as well the other way around anyway.

The above is only a list of ones I noticed as being non-free suggestions,
but if it's at all indicative, it's certainly interesting. And while I
reserve the right to think you're all insane and enhances is clearly and
obviously the Wrong Thing, I can't see any reason why it would /actually/
be any worse than any other way of doing it.

Which I guess is my cue to say...

Cheers,
aj

-- 
Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. PGP encrypted mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''

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