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Re: the Recommends control field (was: dselect survey)



Jochen Voss asks,

> >   (a) The social interpretation: a Recommended
> >       package is one the maintainer recommends
> >       to his users, in the usual English-
> >       language sense of the word "recommends".
> 
> > As review of the archive Packages file shows,
> > both interpretations (a) and (b) enjoy the
> > practical support of scores of maintainers.
> Can you give examples for (a)?  In my eyes these would violate
> the following clause of policy (quoted from section 7.1):
> 
>   Recommends: This declares a strong, but not absolute, dependency.
>     The Recommends field should list packages that would be found
>     together with this one in all but unusual installations.

If I choose a few example packages more or less
at random, then I hope that their maintainers
will not be angry.  This reply is meant neither
as a correction nor as a complaint nor as a bug
report.  Undoubtedly in some cases, after all, a
solid technical reason exists for the
Recommendation---a reason of which I am not
aware.

Besides the examples of Recommending packages
are also given a few examples of curiously
non-Recommending packages.  Scroll down to see
these.

------------------------------------------------
RECOMMENDING PACKAGES
------------------------------------------------

Package: licq
Recommends: sox
Description: ICQ client (base files)

Package: magicfilter
Recommends: xpdf-utils
Description: automatic printer filter

Package: pyftpd
Recommends: python-tk
Description: ftp daemon with advanced features

Package: smail
Recommends: mail-reader
Description: Electronic mail transport system

Package: cdlabelgen
Recommends: gs
Description: generates front cards and tray cards for CDs and DVDs

Package: rezound
Recommends: cdrdao
Description: Audio file editor

Package: xhangglider
Recommends: menu
Description: hanggliders fly around in your X root window

Package: lv
Recommends: bzip2
Description: Powerful Multilingual File Viewer

Package: xvkbd
Recommends: wordlist
Description: software virtual keyboard for X11

Package: libecgi0
Recommends: httpd
Description: An ANSI C library for the creation of CGI applications

Package: a2ps
Recommends: bzip2, lpr | cupsys-client, psutils, wdiff
Description: GNU a2ps - 'Anything to PostScript' converter and pretty-printer

Package: python2.3-htmlgen
Recommends: python2.3-imaging
Description: Generation of HTML documents with Python scripts

Package: irda-utils
Recommends: openobex-apps
Description: IrDA management and handling utilities

Package: tk707
Recommends: timidity
Description: drum sequencer for a sound card or MIDI device

Package: bittorrent
Recommends: libwxgtk2.4-python
Description: Scatter-gather network file transfer

Package: mozilla-locale-fr
Recommends: myspell-dictionary-fr
Description: Mozilla French Language/Region Package

Package: docbook-xsl
Recommends: lynx | www-browser | httpd | apache
Description: stylesheets for processing DocBook XML files to various output formats

Package: postfix
Recommends: mail-reader
Description: A high-performance mail transport agent

Package: jwhois
Recommends: lynx
Description: Improved Caching Whois client

Package: evolution
Recommends: gnome-pilot-conduits
Description: The groupware suite

Package: gtkhtml
Recommends: gnome-control-center
Description: HTML rendering/editing library - bonobo component binary.

Package: mozilla-browser
Recommends: mozilla-psm, myspell-en-us | myspell-dictionary
Description: The Mozilla Internet application suite - core and browser

Package: maxdb-doc
Recommends: mozilla-browser | www-browser
Description: Documentation of the MaxDB database system and all of its tools

Package: xfe
Recommends: rpm
Description: lightweight file manager for X11

Package: ircd-hybrid
Recommends: whois
Description: High-performance secure IRC server

Package: feh
Recommends: wget
Description: imlib2 based image viewer

Package: lokkit
Recommends: gnome-lokkit
Description: basic interactive firewall configuration tool (console interface)

Package: ibackup
Recommends: ssh
Description: Automated backups (even remote) of machine configurations

------------------------------------------------
NON-RECOMMENDING PACKAGES
------------------------------------------------

Here are some ${X}-data packages which no not
seem to Recommend (or Depend on) the
corresponding ${X}.  Some of these ${X}-data may
be useful without the ${X}, but their
independent usefulness is not immediately
obvious to me.

asc-data
atanks-data
bumprace-data
capplets-data
chromium-data
circuslinux-data
clamav-data
conquest-data
defendguin-data
discover-data
discover1-data
eggdrop-data
egoboo-data
enlightenment-data
freeciv-data
freedroid-data
gl-117-data
gtk-engines-geramik-data
gtk-engines-thingeramik-data
kdebase-data
kdeedu-data
kdelibs-data
koffice-data
liquidwar-data
luola-data
madbomber-data
moagg-data
moon-lander-data
mrwtoppm-data
pinball-data
race-data
searchandrescue-data
supertux-data
trackballs-data
wesnoth-data
wmaker-data
xblast-data

------------------------------------------------

The point of the examples is naturally not to
prove errors by certain maintainers.
Undoubtedly some of the examples are inapt.  The
examples' only point is to illustrate how
Debian's collective usage of the Recommends
control field seems somewhat less consistent
than one might like.

-- 
Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org

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