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Re: RFC: Making mail-transport-agent Priority: optional

Josh Triplett <josh@joshtriplett.org> writes:

> As far as I know, Priority has the following non-cosmetic uses:


A couple more:

One and only one conflicting alternative provider of a particular
exclusive API or interface may have priority higher than extra according
to Policy, so priority forces us to pick a "winner" among implementations
of the same thing that we recommend people use by default.

There's also the guarantee that all packages of priority optional or
higher can be coinstalled, although it's not entirely clear whether that
guarantee is useful to anyone.

> The distinction between optional and extra doesn't seem that critical
> either.

The distinction between optional and extra is mostly about conflicts, but
I also like having extra for things like debug packages or development
packages for libraries where it's rather unlikely that a user is going to
write code against that library.

To eliminate extra, we'd have to decide what we want to do about
conflicting packages and allow there to be mutually exclusive packages in
the optional set.  It also means we'd stop picking a recommended option
among the providers of a single interface if that interface isn't
important enough to be standard.

> The distinction between required/important and standard does seem useful
> ("working system" versus "default, comfortable system"), though
> occasionally I wish for the option to truly install the bare minimum set
> of packages needed to fetch more packages over the network.

To me, that bare minimum is what required should be, and where it might be
distinct from Essential (since Essential could exclude packages that
aren't required to boot the system but are required for networking and
network package installs).  Of course, I think it's somewhat questionable
that apt is in Essential, since one really only needs dpkg for a bare
minimal system.

>> It would seem to make things a lot clearer for most people if the
>> Standard Task was not linked in any way to Priority: * in
>> debian/control.

> Seems like a reasonable idea to me.  I do think the contents of a
> standard install should not depend on a pile of individual priorities
> set by package maintainers.

Well, strictly speaking, ftpmaster sets the priorities based on advice
from package maintainers, but yes.

I think package maintainers are best at determining optional vs. extra
(insofar as that distinction is useful) and somewhat less so for
determining optional vs. standard.  Beyond that, we probably need someone
with a more high-level view of the archive making a more overarching

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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