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Re: texmf.cnf again

On Mon, Jun 09, 2003 at 11:40:21AM -0400, Colin Walters wrote:

 > Well, the answer must be no.  We have been over this before.  The
 > discussion that started this change began here:
 > http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2003/debian-devel-200304/msg01145.html

 Different can of worms.

 > And here, I gave a sincere try to explain in simple terms why such
 > questions cannot default to yes:
 > http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2003/debian-devel-200304/msg01227.html

 Thank you for your sincere try.  Now let me mold the case at hand into
 your scenarios:

 |  1) Hardcore Unix guy
 |     This person installed Debian because (among other reasons) he
 |     heard it didn't force him to use "wimpy tools" to configure his
 |     system.   Hardcore Unix guy likes to edit configuration files.
 |     He doesn't like using "redhat-config-network" or whatever.  Now
 |     he installs Debian, and gets the first Debconf prompt about
 |     setting his debconf level.  He recoils, but then notices that he
 |     can set it to "noninteractive".  There, now he won't ever have to
 |     have be asked inane questions; he can just edit the configuration
 |     files and be happy.  He gives Debian the benefit of the doubt on
 |     this.

 |  Now, Hardcore Unix guy's needs should be especially important to us
 |  as a project, because he happens to account for a relatively
 |  significant fraction of our developer base (in my experience), as
 |  well as our user base.  Hopefully the problem in the above scenario
 |  is obvious: Hardcore Unix guy will have, unwittingly, agreed that
 |  some of his configuration files in /etc/ can be overwritten.  He has
 |  no idea which ones.  He has no simple, consistent way to stop it, or
 |  to change the default.  However, he might not know this, and he
 |  might edit /etc/texmf/language.dat or whatever.  Then on his next
 |  upgrade, it's gone.  No warning.  Nothing.  Hardcore Unix guy says
 |  "screw this Debian crap, it's just like SuSE"[1].

 This guy is going to be editing a file which starts like this:

%%% This file is automatically generated by update-texmf
% Please do not edit this file directly. If you want to change or add
% anything please take a look at the files in /etc/texmf/texmf.d, and
% invoke update-texmf.

 I have asked the maintainer to make update-texmf check for that
 signature, which at the moment it does not.  That reasonably covers
 this scenario: if Manoj blindly replaces the file by his own
 hand-rolled version the fingerprint won't be there and the file won't
 be overwritten.  If someone else just opens the file and edits it,
 he'll see the comment (which hopefully will be updated to reflect the
 fact that if the comment is not there the file won't be touched) and
 either remove the comment or edit /etc/texmf/texmf.cnf/99_local.  Now
 you are going to tell me the user might scroll past the comment without
 ever reading it.

 |  2) Semi-experienced Newbie
 |     This person doesn't know very much about GNU/Linux, but he heard
 |     this Debian thing has some advantages over other systems, so he
 |     thought he'd try it.  He has a friend who knows a lot about Red
 |     Hat help him set things up, and it mostly works.  He and his
 |     friend kept the default Debconf priority of "critical".  Then
 |     later, he decides he needs to write a paper, and so he calls his
 |     friend, who tells him to install a package named "tex".  He finds
 |     tetex-bin, and installs it.  Now, the hyphenation pattern is
 |     wrong, so he calls his friend again, who tells him to add a
 |     certain line at some magic place in /etc/texmf/language.dat.  He
 |     does that, not knowing anything at all about how the file works.

 |  We need to support this kind of person and this kind of usage. In
 |  fact, Semi-experienced Newbie is exactly the kind of person I'm
 |  trying to have Debian support more with Debian Desktop.  Again, the
 |  problem here should be clear; on upgrade, Semi-experienced Newbie's
 |  hyphenation fixes will mysteriously stop working.  He will have
 |  completely forgotten about those one or two mysterious lines he
 |  added to some configuration file way back when.

 I am in fact more eager to admit that _this_ case could be a problem,
 except for three empirical facts: 1. this kind of newbie is more
 careful and is more likely to read the comment at the top of the file;
 2. newbies tend to emphasize the distro thing much more than
 experienced users (that is, they go looking from help from people using
 the same distribution); 3. the reason for /etc/texmf/texmf.d is making
 package upgrades which work correctly after the fact _easier_, which
 incidentally is not orthogonal to your "Debian Desktop" thing.

 > As for the disparity between the default answer and the description,
 > well, the description should probably be changed.

 I'll be eagerly waiting for a wording that conveys your intention _and_
 satisfies the tetex's maintainer.

 > >  Back to this particular topic.  How does properly and accurately
 > >  documenting the conditions under which /etc/texmf/texmf.cnf is
 > >  automatically generated *not* address your requirements?  Why must
 > >  the default behaviour be the one that's correct for your
 > >  installations?
 > I hope the above explains that.

 Not quite actually.


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