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Re: Installation of Recommends by default on October 1st

On Wed, 01 Aug 2007 22:52:46 +0200
Reinhard Tartler <siretart@debian.org> wrote:

> > Recommends does NOT apply to everyone - that is Policy. 
> : Recommends 
> :
> :   This declares a strong, but not absolute, dependency.
> :   The Recommends field should list packages that would be found 
> :   together with this one in all but unusual installations.

The problem is that with packages like gnome-devel and gnome-core-devel
(re: anjuta) >50% will require SOME of the Recommended packages. As a
long term anjuta user, I would estimate that <5% of all users need ALL
Recommended packages.

What is the anjuta / gnome-devel maintainer meant to do in this
situation? S/He isn't psychic, there is no way to know which Recommends
are going to be a waste of space. That is up to the user, so let the
user decide - on a per-package basis.

Recommends: is easy with small packages, it becomes more difficult when
each user does different things with the one package.

Are we supposed to have anjuta-gtk, anjuta-console, anjuta-glib,
anjuta-glade, anjuta-gnome, anjuta-custom . . . .  each with their own
Recommends: ?

> > What apt is now doing is undermining Policy by removing that CHOICE to
> > not use any recommended packages.
> No. The apt team intends to finally implement what is mandated by Debian
> Policy for years.

Policy does not mandate that ALL Recommends: are to be installed. The
new default makes Recommends: disappear completely - there would be no
difference between Depends: and Recommends: just like there is a
perception of no real difference between Recommends: and Suggests: at
the moment. That makes things HARDER for people like me who do not want
Recommends: because maintainers will lose any reason to put things in
Recommends: and will end up putting everything in Depends: just as many
current Recommends: are actually just Suggests:

The blanket default that does not take the real meaning of Policy.

Proponents of the change need to rationalise just how much wasted disc
space is involved in accepting the installation of all Recommends: for
all packages at all times for all but the most pig-headed users. (i.e.

Has anyone even considered the extra bandwidth / code churn / mirror
requirements of adding hundreds of unwanted packages to every
new installation?

A simple boolean default cannot enforce actual Policy. Set the default
to Recommends:On and Recommends =~ Depends. Set the default to
Recommends:Off and Recommends =~ Suggests (which is where we are now).

Personally, I think we are better off as-is. Overlap between Recommends:
and Suggests: is FAR LESS of a problem than blurring the lines between
Recommends: and Depends: as WILL happen when people get used to the new
default and assume that everyone has all the Recommends: anyway.

I fear that at the end of this whole sorry mess, Recommends will still
be broken, just broken in the opposite way to how it is broken now.

A boolean default cannot solve the problem.

Right problem. Wrong solution.


Neil Williams

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