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Re: `~/.xemacs/{init,.options}.el' (Was: Re: [XEmacs] New Maintainer, soonish.)


Rob Browning <rlb@cs.utexas.edu> writes:
> Finally, I know this is not a black and white issue.  If nothing else
> it would be good to come to some sort of concensus about this issue.

In the interest of reaching consensus, I'd like to agree with
all of your points ;-)

Am I mistaken, or, didn't we just go through a big flamewar about
respecting upstream decisions?  I disagree with the blanket criticisms
of Debian that were being tossed around in that discussion, but I feel
that the main point was a good one: we shouldn't be making gratuitous
changes that will cause user confusion.

> What if the user has an NFS shared home directory among Debian and
> non-Debian systems?  Here on the campus machines, we do.  Sometimes
> when they launch xemacs, it'll do one thing, and sometimes another.

This is an excellent point.  I'm fortunate not to have to deal with an
NFS-mounted heterogeneous network at the moment, but back when I was
working in a university computing environment, I went to a great deal
of trouble to make everything work *just* right even though we had
a mixture of Emacs versions available in different places.  It was
difficult enough without some misguided system integrator trying to
make it "easier", where "easier" usually assumes an unstated "as long
as you're only running <os-name-here>"...

Spending a few days in such an environment, trying to make your
dotfiles produce the same result everywhere, is a great way to become
convinced that gratuitous changes by packagers suck.  Sure, this
proposed change might make xemacs more friendly in some situations,
but if it's a Debian-only change it's still gratuitous, it still
sucks, and as far as I'm concerned it's a bug.

> Of course, it's a fine line, that between what's an OK modification
> for packaging and what's upstream "meddling".  We have to make changes
> to bring a package into conformance with Debian's structure all the
> time, but I think it's best to be fairly conservative about this.
> Perhaps the more visible the change (especially to the user), the more
> conservative we should be.

Exactly.  This particular change has almost nothing to do with system
integration.  It's not our fault that it is difficult for one user to
run multiple versions of emacs.  We do not and can not promise that
any two (non-conflicting) Debian packages can be used simultaneously
by the same user, or that two similar packages will behave the same
way given an identical user environment.  On the other hand, we can
and should promise that our packages will have the same *user visible*
behavior as if they had just been freshly built from upstream source,
if it is at all possible to do so.

At the very least, this proposed behavior should be optional.  If it
must be left in, I would suggest one change: if the ~/.xemacs
directory does not already exist, it should not be created or used *at
all* and the normal configuration behavior should be followed with no
changes.  This way, individual users could maintain completely
separate configurations if they wanted, while not breaking XEmacs for
everyone else.

> At the very most, I'd want the Debian logo to only appear if I
> installed a debian-xemacs-startup-logo package or something.  Note
> that we don't even put the penguin/swirl on the boot up screen
> unless someone installs debian-logo.  Should every program have the
> swirl on their startup screen?  Even Windows doesn't do that..

Indeed, I would probably install a debian-xemacs-logo package if it
was available, but having it be the default just seems... a bit lame.
It's almost like saying "hey, we're so cool we have to spray our name
all over everything".  It makes us look like we're more concerned with
branding than quality (a view that would not be entirely inappropriate
if BOTH of these changes are left in, in my opinion), more interested
in self-promotion and recursive back-patting than in putting together
a good system.  If we want to remind users of our existence, we should
do it by impressing them with our quality, not by burning the swirl
into their retinas...

> Perhaps I'm just being a curmudgeon.

Perhaps, and perhaps I'm getting too old for all this stuff ;-)

- --Rob

- -- 
Rob Tillotson  N9MTB  <robt@debian.org>

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