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Re: [custom] Custom Debian Distros need the help from debian developers

* Wouter Verhelst <wouter@grep.be> [040216 00:20]:
> On the other hand, there's a bunch of system administrators that want to
> configure a high number of their systems in the same way. They don't
> actually want a high number of questions; what they want is flexibility.
> Since in the case of debconf the flexibility increases with an
> increasing number of questions, these people want more questions; but
> since they don't actually go and manually answer each of them, it is not
> the case that they'd care if there were less questions, as long as the
> flexibility remains.

Well, and then there are system administrators, that want real
flexibility. And there is nothing as flexible as putting that config
file of the package to the place it belongs to.

You cannot get felexibility by adding new layers. Debconf can only
be a help for simple users wanting to get fast to an useable system.
Any question unneeded for proper working or any question not asked
needed for this will make the whole to an absurd monster you have to
cope with instead of doing real work...

> The problem with this approach is that it doesn't really scale all that
> well. It requires glue code between the debconf database and the
> packages' configuration files, which will be nontrivial if the
> configuration file format isn't too trivial either. That's not much a
> problem when debconf is only used to fill in the blanks for
> configuration parameters where defaults aren't reasonable; but it
> becomes more of an issue for situations that require a higher level of
> flexibility. When there's more code, there's also a higher probability
> of bugs, not to mention the fact that the code has to be written first,
> which takes up a considerable amount of time.

Why invent new solutions, that are doomed to fail? There are plenty of
possibilities to get system configured for sysadmins: custom .deb's
just copying files to /etc, cfengine, rsync and multiple other things.
You will always need them, as you will most probably never reach a state
where you can configure everything you need in debconf. (Except when
you define the good old /etc ad debconf's database...)

> My question is: why bother? What sysadmins really want is a way to get
> configuration on the target system without having to do much about it;
> debconf is a way to do that, but maybe not optimal, given the above.
> Perhaps it's better to do it differently. One way could be to add a
> general system to distribute configuration files; e.g., adding a hook to
> dpkg that would check whether a certain option has been set, and that
> would kick in when a conffile is being written to disk; if that dpkg
> configuration option has been set, instead of getting the conffile out
> of the .deb, dpkg could then retrieve the configuration file from a
> different location, such as from a server that would contain it, or from
> a CD-ROM or so.
> How's that sound?

Like returning to Windows...

  Bernhard R. Link

Sendmail is like emacs: A nice operating system, but missing
an editor and a MTA.

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