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Re: "The Debian exim 4 packages suck badly" on exim-users@exim.org

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005 19:31:20 +0000, Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net> wrote:
> Scripsit Blunt Jackson <bluujack@gmail.com>
> > As a general note, I find it annoying, frustrating, and confusing
> > whenever ANY debian package has a substantially different
> > installation or configuratin mechanism than the mechanism documented
> > by the software publisher.
> Perhaps Debian is not the distribution for you, then.  We have always
> prioritized constistency across the entire Debian OS over adherence to
> what upstream authors somehow chose to do.

Obviously there's a balance. I wasn't looking for flames. I believe I
did explain *why* debian was my distribution of choice even so.

> I maintain one package whose upstream author apparently thought that
> $PATH would be a good place to look for a system-wide configuration
> file. I changed that to look in /etc instead, which makes the
> configuration mechanism in Debian substantially different from
> upstream's. You may find this annoying, frustrating and confusing, but
> it's how Debian operates.

And clearly, *this* is a scenario in which the upstream author was way
outside the *unix* standard way of doing things. I'm not saying
there's any clear-cut answer, other than to hope that both upstream
developers and debian package maintainers use common sense.

One distinction is in applications that the majority of users just
want to work out of the box, and forget about. If I had to tweak the
configuration of every application on my servers, I would be a
frothing maniac. But there are some biggies, some very well known
applications, that, when installed for any practical purpose,
generally require somewhat sophisticated user oversight. Exim is one,
Apache is another. Mysql is a third. I put in the time to figure out
the debian way of doing Exim (and I'm still not sure I understand it,
but at for now I have it working). There was a substantial amount of
hair pulling and cursing due to the disparity between what I saw on my
hard drive and what I saw in the online documentation. After that
experience, when I installed apache and mysql, and saw they were doing
their own thing as well, I decided I didn't want to learn go through
the same frustration with applications I already knew pretty well. I
removed the debian packages, and compiled my own from the upstream
developers. Note that removing the debian packages did not remove all
their config files and so forth, there was a fair bit of manual
cleanup afterwards -- but I'm not using the stable distribution, so I
don't expect perfection.

As for you, Florian's snide comment:

> Just because the configuration file is called /etc/exim4/exim4.conf
> instead of /usr/exim/configure?  Oh dear.

No, it was the stuff like this that made me pull out my hair:

domainlist local_domains = DEBCONFlocal_domainsDEBCONF

How do I figure out where that DEBCONF stuff is coming from? What it means?

Of course, it didn't help that during the install I didn't quite know
what I was doing, so based on the advice of the install program I
chose the big-file-install, which *was* what I wanted, but I forgot
that I had done that, so when I went to look at the exim config and
found, as the exim website told me I would find (because I was on
debian), a gazillion little bitty config files, I got started figuring
them out, editing them, and not realizing why it made no difference.
Suggestion to exim package people: if someone chooses the big config
file, don't even install the little ones.

Anyway, the point was not to complain about exim... it sounds like
other people are doing that somewhere else. The point was that
*whenever* debian package maintainers re-implement a well-known
distribution/config system, I *hope* that when users have to work with
it they will discover, as I am sure anyone using Henning's package
will, that the changes are clearly necessary -- an indisputable

Now... my apologies for that interlude. I'll go back to lurking now.

I promise I won't respond to any further condescending comments.


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