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Re: debconf vs. the sysadmin

On Sat, 05 Aug 2000 02:02:10 John Goerzen wrote:
> I do have a program called debconfhelper.  debconfhelper operates on
> the premise that, in most configuration file formats, debconf areas
> can be segregated at the top of the file, or at a specific place
> within the file.  This allows the postinst script to modify only the
> areas of the file that it cares about, and lets the admin update the
> rest.  I have a very early version of this in use in the magicfilter
> package that I have debconfized.  You can look for the "package"
> command in its postinst.  Sources and debs at
> http://www.indy.progenylinux.com/~jgoerzen/debconf/.

John, if you recall our somewhat internet-religion-war-ish small
exchange on using whether lisp forms or an oo lang. to specify software
configuration, I had suggested a similar thing.

In almost all of the configuration files, there is a comment format. A careful
parser can be used to take advantage of the comment syntax to extend it
into an "annotation syntax" very easily. Then, the auto-generated script
and user-modified parts of the very same configuration can live peacefully,
yet be dealt with separately. I believe even an automatic repair facility can
be implemented (checksums of annotated portions in separate storage,
the auto-gen code checks against those checksums and can rollback to previous
configuration state on request, or automatically)

A similar annotation syntax has been used in a number of language extensions,
most notably high performance fortran, with great success. A similar, but
less successful, IMHO, application of annotation syntax can be found in
Visual Studio from MS.



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