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Re: Fw: Bug#587620: (wishlist) debian packages: add an optional "Why" field to "suggest" entries (in the dependency field)

On Thu, 1 Jul 2010 10:45:20 +0200
Alexandre Fournier <brutus@free.fr> wrote:

> > Sometimes, from a user point of view, understanding  why a package A
> > recommends or suggests package B1 or B2 is not straightforward.
> >
> > It would be nice to add  an optionnal  "why" field to explain what
> > features are enabled in package A when installing package B1.
> >
> > Ideally, this could be displayed when the user calls : apt-cache show
> > or looks at the package data in another front-end for apt. This way,
> > they would know from the start if they want to install package B1 all
> > along, when installing A.

A single field in debian/control is probably too short to explain the
reasons in a lot of cases and adds yet more bloat to the Packages files
- make it long enough to be particularly useful and the bloat gets even

If there is a v.short reason, it probably should be part of the
Description anyway (so that it can be translated and easily removed
to reduce the size of the Packages files). If it needs more than a few
words of explanation, the reasoning should go in the manpage or
whatever other form of documentation the package can provide, like Help
files. (Depending on whether the extra functionality is related to
upstream additions or Debian-specific changes.) Yes, you only get to see
those after installation of the main package but that's not an issue -
in this scenario, the user wants the main package anyway, just isn't
sure about the others.

In most cases, packages are listed in Suggests: because only a few
installations will actually benefit from those packages. IMHO it's
perfectly acceptable that the user needs to fully install package A
before finding out whether package B would be useful - otherwise make
it a Recommends instead.

BTW Recommends: should also be explained in the package documentation
somewhere, typically the manpage, in terms of what functionality would
be lost for those of us who turn off Recommends.

A useful manpage would solve most of these queries - makes no sense to
me to put this into the Packages files.


Neil Williams

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