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Bug#391246: general: Buildds should consider changing $HOME

Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> wrote:

>> Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:
>> > On Wed, Oct 04, 2006 at 09:32:16AM +0200, Frank Küster wrote:
>> > 
>> > > However, I'd like to point out that this problem is not special to TeX.
>> > > Many programs create ~/.progname directories when run for the first time
>> > > - and these directories contain configuration options which might cause
>> > > trouble, since they are not updated or subject to dpkg conffile
>> > > questions when the package changes configuration options.  It might be a
>> > > good thing to require such tools to have a commandline switch or obey a
>> > > commandline variable that prevents this.  Alternatively, HOME could be
>> > > set to the temporary build directory, so that everything happens there.
> Even more alternatively, these tools should not fail horribly when
> writing to directories in $HOME seems impossible for some reason. That
> falls under 'standard good programming practices'.

This misses the point.  Of course no build process may fail if writing
to $HOME is impossible, and if they do they have a RC bug.

There's a different issue, though:  Many tools create a user-specific
configuration or preferences directory in $HOME when they are first
used.  The problem with that is that these files override the
configuration in /etc/, but are not subject to dpkg conffile handling.
As a result, a tool on a buildd might use settings that were the default
in a previous version, but are now suboptimal.

Of course the clean solution would be to signal to the tools not to look
and write into HOME, but it's hardly realistic to assume that all tools
used (an ever increasing and changing set) will always follow such a
rule.  Therefore the idea to change HOME to something in the build
directory.  Maybe just unsetting it might do as well.

Regards, Frank
Dr. Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX/TeXLive)

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