Package priorities: optional vs extra
I recently found some packages in at an IMHO totally wrong priority in
Debian. Before taking action, I'd like to arrive at a rough consensus
here. I also found some less clear-cut cases, so this prompted me to
think a bit about the language in the policy and what it means. The
more I think about it, the more I think it can be interpreted in
wildly different manners, and I don't know which interpretation is the
one to use.
(This mail contains large excerpts from pre-sarge discussion with
ftp-masters. Full disclosure: This all started when I tried to decide
the priority of a package of mine (scsh), I decided by example (these
other packages are in optional -> surely scsh must, too), but
ftp-masters decided by language of policy.
So, policy says:
This is all the software that you might reasonably want to install
Does this mean
to be in optional, the package - taken in isolation - must be one
one might reasonably want to install
the set of packages in optional is a set one might reasonably want
if you didn't know what it was and don't have specialized
What is "specialised requirements"? Are the requirements that come
from a physical ailment (such as blindness) "special requirements"? Is
the need to do accounting a "specialised requirement"? Is the need to
use mathematical or scientific notations in a document a "special
requirement"? Is the need to write in Ingala, Swahili, Norsk,
English, Japanese, German a "special requirement"?x
How do we decide what is a "special requirement" and what isn't?
To take more concrete examples:
- I found aleph, intercal (!) and whitespace (!!) in optional. Do
these belong there?
- What is "specialized requirements"?
gnopernicus is in optional. From its description, it is useful only
to blind (or not quite blind, but vision-challenged) people. If
that's not a "specialized requirement", then I don't know what
is. Is gnopernicus in optional a bug?
openoffice.org is in optional, and what is it good for? Only to
people wanting a WYSIWG MS Word-compatible word processor, a
spreadsheet or something like that. Seen from where I stand, this
is definitely a specialized requirement; hardly anybody in my
friends circle has this requirement.
OTOH, latex (package tetex-base) is also in optional. While
everyone around me uses it for what it is, a generic document
preparation system, I have repeatedly seen it referred to as useful
only for people needing to put a lot of mathematics / chemistry /
... in their documents. If these people are right, then I guess
that this counts as "specialized requirement", doesn't it? (Besides
the fact that "a full TeX system" is explicitly included by
Other examples include gclinfo, docbook-dssl, g77 (who needs a
fortran compiler?), dpkg-dev (building debian package, specialised
requirement, no?), kaffe (java -> specialised requirement),
6tunnel, bittorrent, screen, ipv6calc, iperf, ntfsprogs, malsync,
jpilot (only owners of Palm PDAs -> specialized), ingerman (only
for people speaking german -> specialized), amanda-*, arj,
I guess that this all boils down to: Specialized requirements can
only be defined relative to a set of user profiles; what is not in
one of these user profiles is "specialized". What are these user
profiles for Debian? (The set of user profiles does not have to be
an enumeration, it can be something like "any profile covering at
least 1% of the computer users" or "all profiles covering at least
1% of the computer users or whose exclusion may make us bad press
or get us sued".)
- What is "might reasonably want to install"?
You mean I "might reasonably want to install" all of firefox,
mozilla, galeon, epiphany, konqueror, w3m, lynx, links, elinks,
amaya and chimera2?
Or, in another category, sawfish, icewm, wmaker, gwm,
ion, xfce, amiwm, 9wm, aewm, amaterus, asclassic, blackbox,
enlightenment, evilwm, fluxbox, fvwm, ion2, lwm, olwm, openbox,
pwm, larswm, oroborus, sapphire, uwm, vtwm, w9wm, waimea, wm2,
afterstep, flwm, golem, phluid?
Say I don't know what ratpoison is. I "might reasonably want to
install it", you think?