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Two debconf issues


I'm currently debconfizing one of my packages, uptimed. Two quoestions
have arised:

 - At the start of my config script, I import all settings from the real
    configuration file, if it exists. For some settings, this is trivial,
    for some, I need rather complex text processing. Since perl isn't
    essential, writing the script in perl would make the package depend on
    perl while this is unnecessary for normal operation. Would this be
    acceptable or should I find a better solution?

 - One of the strings should default to the empty string. How do I express
    that in a templates file?


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