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Re: Debian's problems, Debian's future

On Wed, Mar 27, 2002 at 01:53:00PM +0100, Eduard Bloch wrote:
> I looked over the current mencal-or-not discussion and talked to an
> Ex-Maintainer. I think it is time to point out some bad trends in
> Debian, which must be stoped, otherwise the whole system is going to
> collapse, sooner or later.

We already know this, it has come up on the mailinglist twenty times
with big threads. This won't be done before woody, I think it's better
to wait for the woody release. After the woody release we can look at
the problems and think about the solutions.

> 1) Large packages files
> dpkg and apt are designed to manage all the data in one single volume.
> This may have worked fine in Slink times, but now, the volume explodes.
> We need to make decissions. I suggest a three level structure:
> first level: often used packages, max. 500-1000. This volume is used as
>   primary target for dpkg/apt operation. It contains same data as
>   Packages files handle now
> Second level: names of additional packages and keywords (remember
>   Erich's proposal)
> Thirth level: Rest of data, acompanying the second level.

And this *fixes nothing*. When Debian grows and we a 3 times as much
packages, the Packages filesize is as big as it is now. I think my
solutions, providing packages files for each source package, is
better. I don't see a better solution at the moment, I'm really
interested if somebody knows a much better scheme. Keep in mind that
my proposed layout provides a lot of flexibility.

> 2) dpkg's internal structure
> I am not very familiar with dpkg's internals, but my impression says,
> that it needs memory and number of disk access times with O^2 or more.
> shlib's, list files, thousands of postinst files with same and same
> function could be replaced with an good database - saving space
> and increasing speed. <disclaimer>Yes, I propose to change important
> things. Yes, this is best done with a newer package format. No, I do not
> want to port RPM.</disclaimer>

First of all I don't see what's wrong with our package format. Second
a change which isn't backwards compatible will never accepted I think.

> 3) Debconf's usage.
> The current debconf'isation and how it is often done, confuses more
> and more. Preinst and postinst scripts bomb you with thousands of
> questions before you even got a chance to have read the docs.
> We need an additional level for package's configuration state:
> "fine-configured". Only essential things are configured to get the
> package into the "configured" state. For all fine configuration, the
> user can invoke a frontend (GUI/TUI with list selection, or CLI like
> dpkg-reconfigure) and manage the rest.

Isn't that exactly what "critical" is?

> 4) Localisation: We need to provide better localisation. I am very
> disappointed about base-config, which is not localised while
> boot-floppies have good localisation support. We should have additional
> package attributes which can be replaced by apt, so specific packages can 
> get higher Priority: depending on the country settings.

IMHO the package management could be make more flexible. 
> 4.5) I suggest to use UTF8 as the default internal format. Unification
> at this point may prevent breakage letter.

I can agree with this, but there are also some issues. It's not so
easily as you describe here.
> 5) Configuration issues. The current stat is bad. Look at Knoppix, they
> manage to configure X for Debian without much user interaction. It is
> still not possible to make GPM and X to work together. Why cannot
> Branden and Zephaniah not work together?

Maybe because GPM is just an old unmaintained piece of crap? (Sorry
for my rude language, but I think it's the truth.)

For X, I think Branden is doing a fine job and I can really see
improvenment in the way configuration is done. If you know a better
way to do it, did you told it him and/or provide a patch?

Jeroen Dekkers
Jabber supporter - http://www.jabber.org Jabber ID: jdekkers@jabber.org
Debian GNU supporter - http://www.debian.org http://www.gnu.org
IRC: jeroen@openprojects

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