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Re: Path modification

On Sat, 13 Jan 2001, Brian Mays wrote:

> fsblk@aurora.uaf.edu (Britton) wrote:
> > If the admin saw the package, got interested, and installed it,
> > the message *to the admin* seems potentially useful, since PATH is
> > fundamental and mh requires an unusual change to work at all.
> Changing the default PATH for all users (e.g., in /etc/profile) would
> imply (or rather *should* imply) that *all* users on the system will be
> MH users.  This may be true in some very isolated cases, but should not
> be assumed to be true in general.  It should be the *user's* decision to
> modify his path to use the MH shell commands.
> > Since debian ships things like mh-e, which usefully wrap and simplify
> > nmh, the potential for confusion is significant.  But perhaps this is
> > an mh-e bug.
> The potential for confusion does not exist.  MH-E does *not* require
> /usr/bin/mh to be added to the PATH.  (I know; I just tried it.)
> Therefore, all users are free to use MH-E without knowing anything at
> all about /usr/bin/mh or anything about the MH shell commands.
> If an MH-E user wishes to also use the MH shell commands, then he or she
> should be familiar with how these commands work.  That implies that the
> user in question will have already read the MH documentation, including
> the nmh man page, and this user will already know that he should modify
> the PATH environment variable.

Considering I'm the one who originally reports this as a bug, and had the
strange experience with it, I'll let you know a few things. I don't
consider myself a novive Linux user. However, neither do I consider myself
an expert user. For much of my time using Linux, I've tried different mail
systems, including Pine, KMail, and some others. I've used MH frontends,
too. When I chose to install mh, it was because I had installed the
frontends, which I had assumed would be just GUI interfaces to MH, much
like Gnome-GPG or Gnome-APT. So, naturally, since it was going to be
installed and was a program, I wanted to see how it differed from the GUI

Here is where I had the problem. Some people have argued that people who
installed mh would be used to adding it to their PATH. However, I'm not a
longtime user of mh, but I had to install it to use other programs that
interfaced with it. Therefore, I'd expect to be able to use it from the
command line like any other program, without much work. In fact, this is
the first time using Debian that I've ever needed to modify the PATH.

The point is, I don't think you can just brush this off as "If they
installed it, they should know this out-of-the-ordinary way to get it to
work". I've never seen any other package act like this. For example,
installing services don't just put the files in directories and leave it
at that, telling the user that they should add them to rc files. For the
most part, they insert themselves automatically with update-rc. On the
other hand, mh doesn't even tell the user in the first place!

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