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Re: [desktop] Unix configuration nightmare

On Thu, Oct 24, 2002 at 09:26:48AM -0400, Susan Kleinmann wrote:
> Here are two peripherally related suggestions that might help:
> 1.  There is at least one other package that has a do-not-configure-here
> component to its file: grub.  I wonder if it might be possible to find
> some commonalities between the way grub tells users to keep their mits
> off of various sections, and the way the XF86Config file does it?  Just
> using the same words or the same case or the same placement in the file
> for the warning might be a start.  My point is that if there is a common 
> set of characteristics in several programs that tell users to keep out,
> then a broader group of users might come to expect and know to look for 
> "do-not-touch" sections.
>     It would also help users if the utilities that manipulated files
> that were only partially user-changeable had common names, or some
> other common features.

Well, Matt Zimmerman has a proposal for some standardized debconfage
that would basically duplicate the functionality of dpkg's
conffile-update prompting, but for configuration files that aren't
conffiles -- like XF86Config-4.

His proposal is generalized, so I imagine it could be applied to any
package that works this way.  We'll pilot-test it with xserver-xfree86
and see how it goes.  If, eventually, we can teach dpkg to use it for
real conffiles as well, the last big hurdle to eliminating dpkg's
dependency on an interactive terminal will have been removed, as I
understand it.

> 2.  It might be interesting to develop either colorized vim or emacs
> modes that were invoked when editing only-partially-editable files, such
> that the "hands-off" part appeared, say, in some distinct color.

A nice idea, but my guess is that a lot of the people who struggle with
concepts like "put your changes before ### BEGIN DEBCONF AREA or after
### END DEBCONF AREA" also aren't using Vim or Emacs.

G. Branden Robinson                |    Any man who does not realize that
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    he is half an animal is only half a
branden@debian.org                 |    man.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Thornton Wilder

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