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Re: Reasons for recommends and suggests

On Fri, 18 May 2007, Hendrik Sattler wrote:
> The description should not explain what the other package is but
> _what_ it does to the selected package.

In order to explain what the recommended package does to the
recommeding package, you have to explain what the other package is to
some extent.

> Example: ucf recommends debconf-utils. The description of debconf-utils tells 
> me nothing about what it actually does (really could be more verbose) and I 
> cannot draw the connection line to ucf. The question that arises is: "Do I 
> also need it if I am not a debconf developer?".

My point is that you shouldn't care in the default case, at least for
Recommends. The only time you wouldn't want a Recommends: installed is
if you know that it wouldn't be useful.

Anyone who cares should know to look in README.Debian to find it out;
those who don't know enough wouldn't be able to make a decision based
on a tiny blurb in the Description anyway.

For example, in the case you're talking about, you'd have to explain
that ucf would like to be able to use debconf-loadtemplate from
debconf-utils utils when it's running as root just in case its
templates have become corrupted. Now, you and I may know what
debconf-loadtemplate does, what a template is, and why ucf would be
worried about corruption of its template database, but I can't imagine
making this intelligible to even an intermediate Debian user in less
than 5 lines. Hell, I took 3 lines here to say something about it that
I only understand because I read /usr/bin/ucf.

> And no, I do not want to read all manpages and README.Debian files
> for packages that maybe are 4th-level dependencies of a selected
> package (although I look at all of them in aptitude).

So an incomplete, terse phase in the Description which is opaque to
most people who don't read this list is better than actual
documentation in the README.Debian? I disagree, and frankly, I don't
plan on documenting the few packages I have that Recommend: other
things outside of the README.Debian or manpages where appropriate.

Don Armstrong

"People selling drug paraphernalia ... are as much a part of drug
trafficking as silencers are a part of criminal homicide."
 -- John Brown, DEA Chief

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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