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Re: New package containing binaries with same name as some from the packages cons, pscan and hsffig.

On Mon, May 28, 2007 at 11:15:31PM +0900, Charles Plessy wrote:
> Dear Hwei, Uwe and John,
> I did not manage to contact you in private (see below), therefore by
> policy 10.1 I have to move the discussion on debian-devel (copy sent
> to debian-med). We (the members of the pkg-emboss project on Alioth)
> have uploaded a new package in the experimental section of Debian,
> emboss, which provides binary program with similar names as your
> packages.

Actually, there were two replies to your original email, which raises
some concerns over the possible approaches you raised. I did receive
those emails, but did not reply because I didn't have anything further
to add at the time.

> I would like to discuss what is the best solution to this problem for
> our users. We have already explored a few possible directions on the
> debian-med mailing list:
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-med/2007/04/msg00075.html
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-med/2007/05/msg00000.html
> (The thread is split on two months)
> Basically, the plan would be to provide the binaries under their
> original names in /usr/lib, and symlinks in /usr/bin. With such a
> setup, a user can set his PATH in order to have access to the original
> names of the binary programs.

This sounds like the best solution, since these conflicting binaries
*are* a part of the EMBOSS suite. I don't think it's a good idea to
remove other, standalone packages just because one suite happens to have
a conflicting name. The programs in a suite should be used together, and
if users don't use the suite, they should be able to use the conflicting
names for something else.

Perhaps you can use debconf to prompt the user whether to setup the
symlinks to the EMBOSS binaries? (Hopefully this is not a wrong use of
debconf.) That way, regular users of EMBOSS get the appropriate warning
that some binaries may not be available in the default path, and get a
chance to change that if they so choose, and users who may want to use
the conflicting names for other packages can continue to do so without
undue interference.

> However, if I do not get answers, I will suppose that nobody cares
> about the packages cons, pscan and/or hsffig anymore, and will request
> their removal rather than complicating the things for the users of

One of the larger issues this particular case brings up is what to do
with packages that contain binaries with overly-generic names. For
example, 'convert' in ImageMagick: it is only an image converter, but
the name can easily be used for other kinds of conversion. It seems
almost inevitable that one day somebody else will create another program
named 'convert'. We should have some kind of mechanism to deal with


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