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Re: Package splitting and upgrades

> Maybe aptitude is better.  Maybe someone has to write a better command-line
> tool to do a superset of apt-get's current capabilities. But that won't be
> me, I don't have the time, and I suspect I don't have the skills (right now) 
> either :(

This is exactly why I wrote Feta[1]. Unfortunately, so far, help from
actual Debian Developers has been far between and usually unresponsive
(I won't name names, but if you're reading this, you told me "up to a
week" before it appears on mirrors, after I sent you a release to
package on November 18th).

Feta has support for suggests and recommends (currently in the plugins
tarball; the plugins are included with the program in the CVS version),
support for the "console-like readline functionality" mentioned in a
reply to this post), and things like a 'hold' command, as well as a way
to teach users how to use the underlying APT infrastructure directly;
unlike Aptitude or Deity, Feta only uses existing dpkg/apt programs to
do its work (20% the complexity for 80% of the functionality ;).

If I sound slightly bitter, yes I am. This is probably caused by the
fact that I see people reimplementing parts of Feta in an inferior
manner[3], because I tried to avoid tooting my own horn and letting the
word spread by itself after an initial announcement[2]. Instead, I got
let down by Debian developers not returning contact, and not showing
interest in a tool that:

 - Solves a (many) problem(s) that come up frequently on Debian
discussion boards and mailing lists (e.g. this one, right now).
 - Allows users to extend it to perform any other packaging tricks they
want in a simple manner (just by using a shell script, if they want).
 - Does so using existing Debian tools, but providing a simpler, more
consistent, and more powerful interface.
 - Teaches users directly, without a "RTFM" (although, CVS Feta[4] has
RTFFetaM, RTFM, and the teaching mode. Honestly, the only major thing
holding up a 1.3.0 release is the lack of documentation; please read the
Savannah page[5] to see how you can help.)
 - Has existed in a mostly stable (and always useful) state since July,
and had a public announcement (through debian-devel and DWN) at that

So, yes. Someone does have to write such a command line tool. Someone
has done so. Now the question is, why isn't Debian (the organization)
interested in it?

1. http://www.sacredchao.net/software/feta/index.shtml

2. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2001/debian-devel-200107/msg01614.html

3. http://www.debianplanet.org/article.php?sid=608 but I'm sure there
are others as well. This is no slam to the author (who sent me a nice
Feta patch just 3 days later :), but rather a specific observation of
the general problem that third party Debian packaging tools are not
usually packaged or made easily available for Debian (the exception I
can think of, Wajig, is similar to Feta, but is more a swiss army knife
of Debian stuff, where Feta is a swiss army chainsaw of Debian

4. http://savannah.gnu.org/cgi-bin/viewcvs/feta/

5. http://savannah.gnu.org/projects/feta/
 - Joe Wreschnig <piman@sacredchao.net>  -  http://www.sacredchao.net
  "What I did was justified because I had a policy of my own... It's
   okay to be different, to not conform to society."
                                   -- Chen Kenichi, Iron Chef Chinese

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