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Bug#587377: debian-policy: Decide on arbitrary file/path names limit

Hi Jonathan,

On Thu, 2011-03-03 at 15:58 -0600, Jonathan Nieder wrote:
>  * how many characters of grace area can tools like dpkg-divert feel
>    free to use?

I don't think tools should be like "whoa, i think this filename is going
to be too long" for some arbitrary value, nor should they be like "hey,
this filename is under the policy defined limit, so there's nothing to
worry about".  Instead, they should try to do what they want to do just
like they normally would, check for errors like they're already doing,
and handle themselves as gracefully as possible and give informative
information based on errno when stuff doesn't work as expected.

>  * when is enough enough and the current pathname scheme actually a
>    bug that is going to prevent people from being able to install
>    the package?

If the package fails to install, I think we already have processes in
place for that.  The user would report it and probably give it a serious
severity.  If they were debootstrapping onto a fat16 filesystem (or
something else deigned to be not worth supporting) the release time
might step in and say that it's not RC, and otherwise the package will
have to be fixed anyway.

And anyway can't know what those limits are going to be in all
situations.  When building the binary package, you have the filename
plus the length of the build directory and temporary destdir directory
(i.e. /tmp/buildd/<sourcepackage>/debian/<binarypackage>/<path>).  Throw
some chroots while you're at it and... :)

Like I said before, I think having lintian warnings for concrete
known/potential issues (like this package won't unpack on a CDROM,
ReiserFS, etc) would be good (really good even), but I don't see where
the gain is in having arbirary policy-defined limits in packaging.  What
is the benefit of all this?

The only benefit I could think of would be if instead of defining the
maximum limit, we defined/referenced a minimum guaranteed limit that
"debian installation compatible" filesystems must support.  This might
then provide a bit of guidance in the situation where install failures
occurred on some arbitrary filesystem/package/path combination.


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