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Re: [gnu.misc.discuss,gnu.emacs.gnus] Free software: Packagers vs Developers

Per Abrahamsen <abraham@dina.kvl.dk> writes:

> I like the idea of someone collecting (released versions of) free
> software, combining them with the minimal amount of changes to make
> it work together, and then getting the hell out of the way.

What if the user wants a system where *all* the machine specific
config files are in /etc, where all the architecture independent
static files are in /usr/share, where *all* the docs are in /usr/doc,
and where nearly all the documentation is accessible through a web
interface auto-generated from the respective upstream formats?  (I
don't really use that, but it's really nice for some people).

This is something that someone like the qmail author doesn't care
about, and isn't willing to compromise on, but which is *critical* to
organizations that have to maintain thousands of networked machines.
Further it's just something that's nearly impossible to do by just
hoping for really good communication and unity of purpose among *all*
the upstream source authors.

What if a user wants to be able to have several major flavors of
emacsen installed (emacs19, emacs20, and various xemacs) and wants
them to cooperate, automatically working right with any other system
packages that support them and automatically generating the right
byte-compiled files for each all of the installed flavors at package
install time?  You might not like this, I believe many users and
administrators do.

We are working pretty hard to provide these things, and we've gotten
pretty far.  How could we do that if we weren't allowed to make any
source changes?

I'm not claiming that we haven't made our share of mistakes, and I'm
not advocating doing things that are explicitly against the wishes of
the upstream authors as a matter of course.  That's something to avoid
if at all possible.  However I do think we're doing work worth doing,
or I wouldn't be here, and apparently a lot of users agree...

Rob Browning <rlb@cs.utexas.edu> PGP=E80E0D04F521A094 532B97F5D64E3930

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