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Re: Feaping Creature-ism in core Debian Packages

*Dale Scheetz wrote:
> Personally I object to perl routines embedded in a rules file, but the
> point I was trying to make is that placing perl-base in the essential
> packages creates a "camel's nose" situation. Those who use perl are now
> allowed to do so in installation scripts as well as in package build
> circumstances. Now the stage is set for the inclusion of perlisms that
> aren't supported by this essential package, but were available on the
> maintainer's machine when he built the package. Now, even though you may
> have the proper essential packages installed, the build fails because some
> additional feature of perl is not available. The maintainer may not even
> have been aware that they stepped ouside the boundries of the essential
> perl package, and thus will not know to include this dependency in any
> future source depends mechanism.
   How many packages use perl routines not in perl-base (or perl)? 
Is it that many ? Can't you just file a bug?  To use arbitrary perl
routines, the packager needs to include the library via 'use', so 
including an routine by mistake does not seem likely.  Some perl
modules are in perl-base, and some are in perl.  Perhaps lintian
could help find some transgressions, or a list can be published.
(It also works to grep 'dpkg -L perl-base').
   Whether perl should be allowed is to a large extent a matter
of opinion. Debian has made the decision to make perl-base essential.
perl is a de facto unix standard.  So I don't see why packagers should 
not use it.  I am not convinced that package builders should not
be able to use full perl, even thought it increases bootstrapping
   I never used debhelper, so I can't comment on it.
   The general problem of outrageously complicated build
dependencies does need attention.  But I think the case
for allowing perl is strong. Other languages could be considered
on a case by case basis.  Perhaps drawing the line
at pre-perl 'standard' unix tools is the correct decision, but
it is also arbitary.
   I don't think you are really advocating making perl-base 
non-essential, so this is really a side issue to the more
important problem you brought up of building dependencies.
Build dependencies may not be a panacea, but they couldn't
make things worse than they are.  If they have to be put
in by hand, so be it.  Try to find them all, and rely on
bugs.  If a bug is not filed, then the chance that the 
dependency causes a problem is perhaps not so great.

John Lapeyre <lapeyre@physics.arizona.edu>,  lapeyre@debian.org
Tucson,AZ     http://www.physics.arizona.edu/~lapeyre

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