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Re: Bug#99835: seemingly useless and ill-conceived "meta" packages

Joey Hess wrote:
> I hope you can take a look at the print server task and offer any
> feedback. Here it is as it currently stands:
> Task: print-server
> Section: server
> Description: print server
>  This task sets up your system to be a print server. It includes
>  the samba server for Windows OS/2 or DOS clients, netatalk for Apple
>  clients, and a standard lpr for unix clients.

Now I realize that there are two different tasks:

    * Use a computer as a printer server as explained in the
      description of your task.  You don't need any tools for creating
      "print jobs" because the clients supply jobs for the printer.

    * Print from the computer.  You must be able to make "print jobs"
      and to use existing print servers.

> Packages:
>  samba
>  samba-doc
>  smbclient
>  swat
>  smbfs

I think that others can make better suggestions than me especially for
the server part of printing.  I think that smbfs is not needed and
some package(s) for netatalk should be added.  Smbclient doesn't help
setup of print server, it helps using an existing remote SMB print

>  lpr

I am not sure why I had to install lprng on my computer.  May be some
package recommends lprng and when I started dselect it installed lprng
instead of lpr.  In any case lprng provides lpr and works well in its
default configuration.  Thus it is a better candidate for the default
lpr server of Debian.

>  magicfilter
>  gs

These are not needed for using a computer as a print server.

Now a few words for the other task: the task of printing,
i.e. creating printing jobs.  You have to:

    1. convert a data file to PostScript.

    2. convert PostScript to the native commands of the printer.

    3. connect with a print server and supply the resulting commands.

The job of magicfilter is to automatize these steps.  Apsfilter does
the same job but I think that magicfilter is better because it uses

Magicfilter (and apsfilter) use external programs to make conversions.
For example magicfilter uses xpdf to confert from PDF to PostScript.

> It's much better to just apt-get install magicfilter (or mozilla, or
> navigator, or whatever), and get what you asked for, whether it's a
> meta package or not.

The point here is that magicfilter doesn't depend on external programs
it uses.  It can suggest them but it doesn't have to depend.  It will
use recode only if you have a StylusColor printer.  It will use
djtools only if you have a DeskJet printer.  It will use xpdf only if
you print PDF files directly (not by acroread).

That's why apt-get install magicfilter doesn't work and won't work.
You have to apt-get install the external filters you will use.  But
the task `Printing' can not know which filters you will use and may be
you don't know that on install time either.  And because all these
external filters are not many I think they all can be installed by
default by the task for printing.

> Anton Zinoviev wrote:
> > Reading the posts in debian-policy I had an impression that the override
> > mechanism is only a temporary solution.  If it isn't then the task
> > `Printing' doesn't need meta-magicfilter.
> We don't know if it will be temporary or not.

You see that someone must determine the external packages magicfilter
uses.  May be the maintainer of magicfilter will do that job, may be
some other developer (it doesn't matter), but it is not a duty for the
maintainer of recode to determine that magicfilter may need sometimes
its package.

Or may be you will like making apt-get install magicfilter+helpers
instead of apt-get install meta-magicfilter? ;-)
(Note that `+' is a part of the package name.)

Another very useful package is a2ps.  It takes the job of converting
from data file to PostScript and usually it does it better than the
filters of magicfilter.  For example you say a2ps some_program.c
instead of lpr some_program.c and you will have your program printed
with syntax highlighting, frame borders, etc.

lpr (provided by lprng) is needed not only as server, but also for

In my opinion these are the important for printing packages
(magicfilter, filters for magicfilter, a2ps and lprng).  You can also
add here some PostScript converters such as mpage and psutils.  I
would add here also packages that allow using remote printers (such as
smbclient) but when I made my ITP of task-printing some developers
disliked my idea and that's why my package task-printing doesn't
install smbclient.  Now I agree with them.  You can not use remote SMB
printer if you don't know how use smbclient for printing.  And if you
know that then it is not difficult to make apt-get install smbclient.

Anton Zinoviev, zinoviev@debian.org

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