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Re: Thoughts on network detection and configuration on Debian

On Fri, 2001-12-07 at 04:41, enrico@debian.org wrote:
>  * Thoughts on network detection and configuration on Debian
> There are a lot of packages for automatic network detection and
> reconfiguration on debian: whereami, divine, intuitively,
> laptop-netconf, laptop-net, netenv and maybe others.  IMHO they all have
> a problem: they do network detection AND reconfiguration.  This is a
> problem because Debian already has a way to configure network
> interfaces, provided by the base package ifupdown.

For so many options, there is obviously an itch being scratched here. 
On the other hand it seems to be one of those worst kind of itches that
no scratcher can quite hit right :-)

I developed whereami in the direction I did because purely _network_
reconfiguration was not sufficient for what I wanted.  When I plug my
laptop into a docking station (for example) I want to take action on

Perhaps that sort of _hardware_ reconfiguration is now a job for
'hotplug' (which wasn't around when I first wrote 'whereami' :-).

'whereami' tries to be one place to combine all of 'these sorts of
things' together.  Unfortunately, perhaps, 'these sorts of things' turns
out to follow Wittgenstein's 'family resemblance' model - it is not
subject to a clean definition.

In making 'whereami' be one place, I have endeavoured to make it safe to
call often.  There should be no harm in hooking it into apm, for
example, or into pcmcia, or hotplug.

> ifupdown already provides a way to define configuration profiles, and
> hooks for selecting the good one.  This means that Debian does not need
> a unique tool for network detection AND reconfiguration, but two
> different tools, one for network detection and one for system
> reconfiguration.

I wasn't aware of that.  Again, ifupdown weren't around when I first put
it together and I have had no need to use them on my laptop since. 
There is no reason the 'configuration' side of whereami can't simply be
an appropriate ifupdown command or two though, if that is simple enough
for you.

Backing up to network drives on an automatic way, changing proxy
settings and e-mail settings is somewhat beyond the scope of ifupdown,
however, and these are quite common requirements of change when a person
uses their laptop inside multiple organisations.

> I'd like to cooperate with the authors and users of the involved
> packages to address this problem and see what they think.  If we share
> the same concerns, maybe we should merge efforts and try to clean up the
> mess.

I'm happy to cooperate.  I'm in the process of rewriting whereami from
the ground up to provide better interfaces to what it does and easier
configuration.  Now is probably the perfect time to think more deeply on
the issue and to build a wider debian infrastructure for this.

Thanks for thinking :-)
Andrew @ Catalyst .Net.NZ Ltd, PO Box 11-053, Manners St, Wellington
WEB: http://catalyst.net.nz/        PHYS: Level 2, 150-154 Willis St
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