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Re: Reasons for recommends and suggests

On Fri, May 18, 2007 at 02:04:24AM -0700, Don Armstrong wrote:
> 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.
As I mentioned, I dont think this information should be in every
package and probably would be useful for more desktop-users than
developers. I'd only suggest creating the infrastructure (presumably so
that it doesn't break anything in dpkg and would only be shown in
aptitude and synaptic) and then allow either the maintainer to add it or
allow users to contribute to it.
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