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Re: New virtual packages: lv2-plugin and lv2-host

Jonas Smedegaard <dr@jones.dk> writes:

> It seems to me that you are applying more strict rules now than has been
> applied to other names on the list in the past.

I don't know if Ian is, but I certainly would.  We have a bunch of
existing virtual packages that aren't really useful because they don't
offer any sort of guaranteed interface, and therefore cannot be
meaningfully used in package relationships (which is the whole point of a
virtual package).

> httpd and imap-server also do not provide a common command (nor do they
> necessarily occupy a common port number).

Both of those are excellent examples of virtual packages whose utility I
would question.  (As opposed to httpd-cgi, which is useful for packages
that provide CGI scripts because it provides a clear description of
functionality.)  For example, when would it ever make sense to depend on
imap-server?  What practical use is that virtual package in the archive?

The only thing that you can be guaranteed to do with httpd is serve static
web pages.  While I suppose there could be a package in the archive that
wants to depend on something that can serve static web pages, that seems a
bit questionable to me since there's no agreement about where to put those
web pages so that they'll be served (and doing that would be quite
difficult, given that the local system administrator generally needs
namespace control).

mail-transport-agent is an example of a useful virtual package: it is
guaranteed to provide a /usr/sbin/sendmail that can be used to send mail.

> Similar (as far as I know) for e.g. audio-mixer and mp3-encoder (TTBOMK 
> none of those has a sensible-* wrapper).

mp3-encoder is another one that might be useful but is underspecified.  I
can see a package like crip or jack depending on an mp3-encoder to
generate encoded MP3 files from a ripped CD, but to be useful for that
purpose mp3-encoder would need to provide a binary with a standard API,
like mail-transport-agent.  Without that, it's questionable whether the
virtual package serves any purpose, and indeed you'll find that the CD
ripping packages in Debian don't reference mp3-encoder.  (Although that
may be for patent reasons too.)

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

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