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Re: Debian vs. Ubuntu source control file

On Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 10:36:33AM +0100, Xavier Roche wrote:
> This is the only reason why a patch is needed for all releases on  
> ubuntu. The patch (<http://patches.ubuntu.com/h/httrack/>) is basically  
> a one-liner in the control file (plus changelog and friends):
> -Depends: ${shlibs:Depends}, webhttrack-common, iceape-browser |  
> iceweasel | mozilla | firefox | mozilla-firefox | www-browser
> +Depends: ${shlibs:Depends}, webhttrack-common, iceape-browser |  
> iceweasel | mozilla | firefox | abrowser | mozilla-firefox | www-browser
> What do you, folks, think of this case ?

I think this is a specific case of a more general problem: we
don't have a mechanism to provide a distribution-wide default
for a virtual package.  The result is that you end to with
dependencies such as this hard-coded into individual packages
(which is ugly, unmaintainable and inconsistent):

  iceape-browser | iceweasel | mozilla | firefox | abrowser | mozilla-firefox | www-browser

rather than this:

or this

(where default-www-browser is a dependency on e.g. iceweasel|www-browser)

We solved this for mail-transport-agent with default-mta, but it's
a more general (and unsolved) problem for *all* virtual packages.
I did propose (and implement) a "virtual-defaults" package some four
years back which created such a set of metapackage dependencies, but
this wasn't adopted.  However, we do need some system to handle this.
NB: http://people.debian.org/~rleigh/virtual-policy_1.dsc

ajt (IIRC) said work was going on in dpkg to implement a cleaner
solution than the above, but AFAIK this never materialised, and I've
never seen anything more about it.  It would be trivial to update
the above to fold default-mta into it and provide defaults for all
key virtual packages.  This *single* package could then be customised
by derived distributions to provide specific defaults.


  .''`.  Roger Leigh
 : :' :  Debian GNU/Linux             http://people.debian.org/~rleigh/
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