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Re: Depends/Recommends from libraries

Adam Borowski <kilobyte@angband.pl> writes:

> I'd like to discuss (and then propose to -policy) the following rule:

> # Libraries which don't provide a convenient means of conditionally loading
> # at runtime (this includes most libraries for languages such as C), SHOULD
> # NOT declare a "Depends:" or "Recommends:" relationship, directly or
> # indirectly, on packages containing anything more than dormant files. 
> # Those include, among others, daemons, executables in $PATH, etc.  Any such
> # relationship should be instead declared by programs that use the library
> # in question -- it is up to them to decide how important the relationship
> # is.

This feels to me like the wrong tool.  It's entirely plausible for there
to be a library whose entire purpose is to execute some external helper
program with elevated privileges, which obviously should depend on the
package that provides that program.  If we had such a requirement in
Policy, we would end up with libraries that don't Depend on their actual
dependencies and then callers have to add the dependency and then it's all
just a mess.

I feel like the problem here is that people are failing to fix bugs in
their packages (unnecessary dependencies on libraries that have heavy
dependencies), and you're trying to use Policy as a stick to beat them
with to get them to fix their bugs.  I don't think this is a good idea,
and I don't want us to end up with weird and incorrect dependencies for
libraries that really do require external helper programs (which is not
particularly rare).

Particularly since I don't think this requirement is actually targeted at
the dependency that's bothering you.  In your example:

> It'd help disarm dependency chains such as:
>     xfce4-power-manager -> upower -> libimobiledevice4 -> usbmuxd
> ie, wanting XFCE currently pulls in a daemon that's of no use to anyone not
> using a piece of iJunk (and what it even has to do with power management?).

this would outlaw the Recommends from libimobiledevice4 to usbmuxd, but my
understanding is that dependency is *correct*, and the actual extraneous
dependency that's upsetting you is the one from upower to
libimobiledevice4, which this Policy change would not affect at all.  If I
were fixing this bug, that's the change I would make: have upower
dynamically load libimobiledevice4 iff it exists, since that's fairly
niche functionality.  (Or, really, given that it's a Recommends, just not
worry about it.)

In general, I don't want to see us place too many restrictions on
Recommends.  If you don't want additional helpful programs, disable
installing Recommends by default.  I think it's very odd to worry about
bloat while simultaneously installing Recommends by default; those aren't
really consistent things to do.

> Other prominent examples include:
>     openssh-server -> libwrap1 -> tcpd
> using tcpd for ssh is a very niche use.

I assume this is for /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny.  I think that
could be lowered to a Suggests without losing much assuming the library
behaves correctly when those files are missing; have you already reported
that as a bug?

>     e2fsprogs -> libuuid1 -> uuid-runtime
> that daemon is useful only if you need to rapidly generate MANY uuids.  Not
> just a single uuid per filesystem.  If your package actually needs that, it
> can declare the dependency itself, like ceph-base does.

Here too, Recommends -> Suggests seems to make sense to me; is that a
conversation anyone has already had with the maintainer?

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

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