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Re: Depends/Recommends from libraries

Adam Borowski <kilobyte@angband.pl> writes:

> What's wrong in the current state is that it looks only from the point
> of view of the library: libwrap1 is useless without tcpd, thus it's
> natural for it to have an elevanted severity.  But that dependency is
> wrong from a more global point of view.  That's why I'm proposing making
> the decision a responsibility of programs which link to the library.

I don't think these issues are as hard to reason about one by one as
you're saying.  This is a good example: libwrap0 is *not* useless without
tcpd.  All that tcpd is providing it are the default /etc/hosts.allow and
/etc/hosts.deny files (and maybe some binaries that are used in unusual --
these days -- situations like safe_finger).  You can use libwrap0 easily
without having tcpd installed if you write those files yourself.

Therefore, I think it would be reasonable to downgrade this Recommends to
Suggests.  (However, I seem to recall that we talked about this before and
there was some specific problem Marco was worried about that we haven't
captured in this discussion.)

That said, while I get that every little bit counts, installing tcpd on a
system has remarkably minimal impact.  It's just a few binaries in a tiny
package that doesn't start any processes and doesn't do anything.  It
takes all of roughly 92KB on disk.

The difficulty with the usbmuxd issue is precisely that it's just on the
borderline.  It only supports one specific (and not particularly common
for Debian, if common out in the world) type of hardware, but it's kind of
important on that piece of hardware.  There isn't a communication problem
here, there isn't a Policy problem here, there's a *hard tradeoff* problem
here, and talking about this as if it were an issue with missing Policy
loses the fact that this is a thoughtful choice the maintainers have made
with an understanding of all of the consequences.

I get that you disagree with their decision, but their decision isn't
obviously wrong.  We don't have a better way of supporting unusual
hardware than this.  It's worth noting that some steps have been taken to
minimize the impact of the additional dependency (it's small, it's only
started on demand, etc.), which I at least find entirely reasonable and
therefore feel fairly comfortable with still having it in the Recommends
set because otherwise people with Apple hardware have to do fairly obscure
things to get their hardware working.

I think everyone involved would be happy to switch to a better solution if
we had one (some package that detects packages needed for specific
hardware profiles and installs them, for instance).

It feels like you're unhappy with a decision that was made thoughtfully,
not accidentally, and want to use Policy as a way to override that
decision, which makes me quite uncomfortable.

And, with my Policy Editor hat on, I will say that this is not the purpose
of Policy; Policy is to document consensus about how we build the
distribution.  If you have a technical disagreement with maintainers about
their package metadata that involves thoughtful and principled
disagreement between two valid approaches with different tradeoffs (which
appears to be the case here), then for better or worse that's what the
Technical Committee is for.

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

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