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Re: Packages file (long email) [WAS: Splitting Packages]

On Mon, Apr 01, 2002 at 02:49:53PM +0200, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto wrote:
> Daniel Burrows wrote:
> > On Sun, Mar 31, 2002 at 12:53:38PM +0200, Fabio Massimo Di Nitto <fabbione@fabbione.net> was heard to say:
> >   There are 25 packages which declare "Essential: yes" in sid.
> > 
> >   Why change a fundamental part of the packaging system and risk
> > breaking things, merely to save about 350 bytes of disk space?
> The point is not saving only 350 bytes. But reduce the number of 
> possible keywords available in the Packages file and a better 
> organization of the entire archive.

Essential: and Priority: are qualitatively different things (the first
prevents a package being removed easily, the second is used for sorting
packages for display in package management front ends). If you want to
glob different concepts into one field in the name of a few cycles'
worth of efficiency, you could certainly dedicate the many hours of work
it'll take to ensure that absolutely nothing breaks (see below), but I
think there are much better things you could be spending time on.

> If we always have to stick 100% to Policies and possible breaks than
> we should just leave things like they are now. People rised a serious
> problem and the idea is to try to optimize as much as we can.

Any complexity theorist will tell you that optimizing away constant
factors gains you nothing in the long run, especially when you lose
robustness by doing so. Given that the number of packages in Debian is
growing more than linearly over time, breaking clean abstractions in the
name of a small constant factor improvement that will barely last until
the next release is foolish.

> IF and only IF we can come to a real better techincal solution noone
> will tell us not to change policies. It's obvious that during a 
> transition phase things can break but unstable is there.. ;)

The attitude that "unstable is there to be broken" is one of the reasons
we have trouble making releases. What happened to professionalism and
the art of designing good transition plans?

Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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