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Re: [desktop] Unix configuration nightmare

On Wed, Oct 23, 2002 at 10:09:58PM +0200, Andreas Metzler wrote:
> Time for a third opinion: I think your setup circumvents the problem
> (parsing XF86Config) _very_ nicely with little overhead. It allows me
> to customize any section I want while still letting debconf handle the
> rest. Basically I just have to copy it and move it outside of the debconf
> part.

Well, that was the use case I had in mind when I wrote XFree86's debconf
support, but judging by the dozens of config files I've seen, that's not
the use case in widest deployment.

You can tell people to put their shit outside the debconf area, but they
won't.  They just tilt their heads a little, smile politely at you, and
walk straight into the wall, again and again.

"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
"Make the change you want, but do it over here, please."  "No."
[repeat until you vomit]

Cutting and pasting a block of text is Too Hard.

The scenario you enjoy will die, because People Will Not Read.  It's
also arguably a violation of way Debconf is supposed to work (there's
not supposed to be any such thing as a "debconf area", and for files
that aren't as potentially insanely complex as XF86Config, I agree), so
I'm not getting any support from the Orthodox Church of Debconf, either.

I may sound bitter, and maybe I am a little, but I know where the fault
lies; it lies with me, for misjudging my audience.  I didn't think there
was anything between the following two points on the user continuuum:

* hates and fears text config files and will not touch them
* will read and edit a text config file

But there is such a third group:

* will edit a text config file, but only given very precise and explicit
  instructions -- will not read manpages, will not read the config file
  itself, has tunnel vision, will only take action on suggestions like
  "right after the line that says Driver "mga" in your XFree config
  file[sic], add a line that says Option "WhizzBang" and you'll be able
  to use the special Tomb Raider hack that let you play Lara Croft
  without any clothes on, and adds lots of mirrors to the level maps"

So, like I said, it's my fault.  I didn't think many such people
existed.  They do, and because they are numerous it's my responsibility
as a Debian package maintainer to accomodate their needs.  What you want
to do will still be possible, but you'll have to use interdiff or
something.  An easy thing will be made hard -- or at least tedious -- so
that a different easy thing can be made even easier than it was, because
even "easy" was too hard for some people.

Thanks for the kind words, though.

G. Branden Robinson                |       The software said it required
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       Windows 3.1 or better, so I
branden@debian.org                 |       installed Linux.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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