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Re: Bug#397939: Lintian: outdated-autotools-helper-file

On Sun, Feb 17, 2008 at 08:08:47PM +0100, Bas Wijnen wrote:
> Let's compare it with a Java program.  Would you consider it acceptable
> for the packager to build it, uuencode it, put it in the diff.gz and
> from debian/rules just uudecode it, instead of regenerating it?

Well, I see one big difference.  I often get patches from downstream
to configure.  I, of course, make sure to apply them to the
appropriate .am (or whatever), as well as forwarding them upstream.
But to me, this indicates that downstream often considers the
configure file to be a readable source format.  This cannot be said of
a uuencoded binary.  I think that's an important distinction.

Whether that distinction is sufficient to justify a different set of
rules, I reserve judgement on at this time.

But honestly, I think our job is to deliver full source and binaries.
I _don't_ think we necessarily have to exercise every bit of the
source (e.g. the .am files) on every build.  In fact, my primary
objections to the java example would be a) that it confounds user
expectations, and b) that it would result in huge diffs.  I'm not sure
that either of those objections would apply to the autoconf case.

> The fact that there exist packages which work properly without
> recompiling from source doesn't mean it's a good default.  IMO the
> default should be to always compile from source.  Yes, that means hassle
> for the packager; it's pretty much the whole task of packaging.

I think there's a big difference between recompiling from source as an
end user would do and (re)generating _everything_ as an upstream might
do.  I suspect the ultimate question here is: does Debian serve as a)
a proxy for the user, generating binaries so they don't have to, or b)
as a proxy for upstream?  I tend to lean towards the former position;
it sounds like you lean towards the latter.

Bottom line: it sounds like you think the java example is
fundamentally wrong; I merely see it as flawed, awkward and hard to
maintain: a bad idea in general, but not necessarily wrong.

Chris Waters           |  Pneumonoultra-        osis is too long
xtifr@debian.org       |  microscopicsilico-    to fit into a single
or xtifr@speakeasy.net |  volcaniconi-          standalone haiku

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