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Re: usrmerge -- plan B?

Adam Borowski <kilobyte@xxxxxxxxxx> writes:

> Thus, either usrmerge Essential or not included in Buster -- no middle
> way.

I think I agree with this.

My impression is that most of the problems with usrmerge are because we're
trying to support a halfway position that Red Hat did not try to support,
where some systems are merged and some aren't.  This creates a ton of
complicated edge cases and inconsistencies, and now we're looking at
making invasive changes to package build systems to try to fix those edge
cases.  This feels like a vast waste of developer time and resources that
could be put to better purposes.

If we just force-merge every system on upgrade, none of those
inconsistencies matter, and I do believe we could successfully complete
that process (with some bumps, of course).  But this halfway slow
migration is death by a thousand cuts.

I think there are some arguments to be made for just force-merging and
moving on, but they're mostly "tidiness" arguments (letting everyone
recycle the brain cells they're currently using to keep track of whether
something is in /bin or /usr/bin and try to make decisions about this,
getting rid of all the compatibility symlinks, permanently eliminating all
minor bugs from omitting /bin or /sbin from PATH, and so forth).  Those
are real benefits that I don't think we should underestimate, but I'm not
sure they're strong enough benefits to create a bunch of hard feelings and
frustration and anger inside the project.  They're also mostly benefits
for packagers; there aren't a ton of benefits for users here.

If we're *not* going to commit to force-merging all systems, I think we
should just stop, or at least slow way down, because there are a *lot* of
edge cases and it's going to require a lot of work to go through them.
I'm very dubious of the viability of any strategy that requires people
override the paths to binaries in their debian/rules file to undo Autoconf
auto-probing, for example.

It feels to me like we should decide as a project whether we're going to
do the same thing Red Hat did and just do the merge and be done with it,
or whether we're going to do a much slower migration by some more robust
strategy of (for example) moving each binary out of /bin manually, but
either way, the current strategy does not seem viable to me.

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