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Re: /usr/-only image

Marc Haber <mh+debian-devel@zugschlus.de> writes:

> I'd go so far that the systemd/udev way is a strategy to cope with
> nearly non-existent conffile handling on non-Debian distributions. We
> didn't do ourselves a favor by blindly adopting this scheme, while
> we're having a vastly superior package managed that handles conffiles
> and conffile changes so nicely.

> Please considernot throwing this advantage away for the rest of our
> distribution.

I've been using Debian for a lot of years now, and while describing our
dconfiguration handling as vastly superior is possibly warranted (it's
been a long time since I've tested the competition so I don't know from
first-hand experience), saying that changes are handled nicely doesn't fit
my experience.

I have spent hours resolving configuration changes on Debian systems that
turn out to be changes in comments or settings that I never changed, and
even more hours maintaining absurdly complicated code that tries to handle
in-place updates of all-in-one configuration files, extract information
from them that needs to be used by maintainer scripts, or juggle the
complicated interaction between debconf and the state machine of possible
user changes to the file outside of debconf.  This is certainly something
that we put a lot of effort into, and those of us who have used Debian for
a long time are used to it, but I wouldn't describe it as nice.

Most of this problem is not of our creation.  Managing configuration files
in an unbounded set of possible syntaxes, many of which are ad hoc and
have no standard parser and often do not support fragments in directories,
is an inherently impossible problem, and we try very hard to carve out
pieces of it that we can handle.  But there are many packages for which a
split configuration with a proper directory of overrides and a standard
configuration syntax would be a *drastic* improvement over our complex
single-file configuration management tools such as ucf, let alone over
basic dpkg configuration file management.

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

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