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Re: [NEW IDEA] Automatic removal of dependencies

On 4/27/06, Callum Lerwick <seg haxxed com> wrote:
> Now we're just splitting hairs about what "automatic removal" means.
No I'm not... let me be as clear. Any mechanism that allows people to
dialog their way through removals of non-explictly installed deps,
that does not try to accurately account for file access outside the
context of the strictly defined package management relationship will
undoubtable mislead novice users into removing packages that provide
functionality that they were in fact depending on. For users who know
enough to know whether they(or scripts/applications on their system)
are not in fact using a particular package.. those more advanced users
can very easily create a list of "leaves" from something like
package-cleanup and then review, per package, whether  the package
provides needed functionality or not.

Any attempt to provide an application which makes it any easier to
remove a collection of packages solely use information with regard to
'explicit' installation of a package will ultimately lead to numerous
unexpected, untested and hard to reproduce problems for the very class
of users who do not have the skills or the experience to troubleshoot
a loss of functionality after-the-fact. And I have no doubt that the
3% of the population who know enough about their systems and their
packages to be able to use such an "automated" removal feature in an
infromed manner would find it a convient feature... because they are
human and they are lazy bastards.  But I dare say that its not worth
making such an application widely available, or easily accessible, nor
a "core" part of the distribution because it will lead the  other 97%
of the userbase who do not know enough about packaging into situations
where the tool removes functionality they were using.
> Yes, review is good. aptitude has a nice transaction preview screen,
> giving you a chance to review everything its going to do, and won't
> perform a transaction without showing it first.

You keep pimping aptitude like its a solution to the underlying
problem. It isn't. I'm quite sure that aptitude or something like it
is very handy for people who know what they are doing.  For novice
users, I think such a set of tools will in fact cause an unacceptable
amount problems if the tools make no effort to make additional tests
such as file access which attempt to account for usage of the packages
which fall outside the strictly defined package mangement
relationships.   Since aptitude's interactivity/review give no
information as to out of package manager  file access... a novice user
is given no information which can be used to warn them that the
packages in the list to be removed are in fact being used by something
the packager  didn't expect. Aptitude or similar tool requires its
users to have a keen understanding of how packages are being used on
their own. And that sort of assumption is absolutely inappropriate for
a tool which people want to expose as a generally available feature
exposed to the entire fedora userbase.

I really really hope the Ubuntu people figure out a way to track out
of package manager context file access which can account for prelink
activity as the integrate the feature into their desktop oriented
distro, ( which was what started this hellaish thread of the damned).
I dare say the demographics of the Ubuntu userbase are not well
correlated with the debian userbase, so whatever the typically
experience is with aptitude in debian will not automatically be the
typical experience with a similiar tool in Ubuntu. Babies will be
eaten, and this time it won't be my fault.

-jef"Isn't it enough to know that I ruined
      a pony making a gift for you? --Jonathan Coulton"spaleta

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