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Re: Bug#687001: ITP: optional-dev -- fake (empty) dev package

On Sat, Sep 08, 2012 at 05:08:34PM +1000, Dmitry Smirnov wrote:
> Package: wnpp
>    Package name: optional-dev
> ########
> There are situations when some of the libraries listed in Build-Depends
> are optional i.e. build system is smart enough to avoid failure when
> such library is missing.
> Often some development libraries are not available on all architectures
> in which case maintainer should know beforehand which architectures may
> satisfy this dependency and maintain an up-to-date list of architectures
> for such packages, like in the following example:
>     Build-Depends: libchamplain-gtk-0.12-dev [!m68k !sh4],
>                    libopenipmi-dev [!hurd-any !arm]
> All the above problems may be addressed by using this package as
> alternative to optional build dependency like in the example below:
>     Build-Depends: libchamplain-gtk-0.12-dev | optional-dev,
>                    libopenipmi-dev | optional-dev

(Using "Build-Depends: libfoo-dev | optional-dev" below.)

I'm afraid this is a bad idea for three reasons:

1. you'd get a misbuild if libfoo-dev happens to be temporarily
   uninstallable due to a transition of something it depends on,
   it or one of its dependencies happen to wait for a co-installed
   multiarch package, and so on

2. same, if libfoo-dev is not yet built.  It can happen if it has just been
   uploaded, we're in the middle of an archive rebuild (a new arch, some
   derivative), etc.

3. don't certain build modes (sbuild IIRC) ignore any alternatives in the
   first place?  If so, you'll cause a FTBFS.

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