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Re: /etc/mailname

Matthew Palmer wrote:

> I decide to package something which has a totally different use for a
> file not otherwise owned by a package, but which is on the system and
> used by a bunch of packages (/etc/passwd, /etc/mailname et al are not
> good examples, because they are specified by policy).  But anyway, I
> have this hypothetical file which I want to use and which nobody else
> has a claim to already.

> My program uses this file in a completely different way to whatever
> else might already be out there.  However, since nobody else owned
> it (and, presumably, I decided to take it under my package's wing -
> or even if I didn't) there is no other package which can say "you're
> using it wrong".

So?  The entire process of producing a distribution assumes that we all
"play nice" and try to coordinate our efforts.  If someone wants to be
an asshole, the package "ownership" that you refer to is not going to
stop him.  The packages in question will simply have file conflicts,
which is just as bad as what you describe since things will be broken.

> Honestly, I think that every file, or at least sub-directory
> tree root, should be owned by a package, except in very select
> circumstances.  There must be good reasons for it not being so, but
> it's protection if nothing else.  If you've claimed it, you have the
> authority and responsibility to mandate how it may be used by other
> packages if they want to use it.  Without such ownership, we're very
> much into the realm of 'common use', which is fine as far as it goes,
> but it doesn't stretch as far as we'd like.

Your realm of "common use" extends to the whole system; it is the entire
reason that we work so hard to put together a distribution that is well
integrated.  The concept of staking out territory in the filesystem
never really occurred to me.  I always assumed that developers would
work together, not against each other.

- Brian

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