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Re: Some thoughts on the yum tutorial

On Wed, 2005-07-27 at 11:58 +0100, Timothy Murphy wrote:
> Stuart Ellis wrote:
> >> 3. I would have started by discussing the entries in /etc/yum.repos.d/ ,
> >> perhaps with model entries for the 3 standard repositories.
> >> That would enable people to get started as quickly as possible.
> > 
> > Yum in FC4 has been set up so it now isn't necessary to directly work
> > with the contents of the configuration files at all for normal usage.
> > It works out of the box, using the Fedora repositories, and you can add
> > and remove third-party repositories by copying .repo files (or having an
> > application do it).
> I always replace the repositories given in the default entries
> by local repositories (I mean in Ireland, in my case).
> I don't know if that is standard practice.

It's not, since the default entries are to mirror lists and not single
sites.  Your package requests go to a random mirror entry, meaning
there's a basic and large-scale load balancing that happens without you
having to do anything.  What happens otherwise if your local repo is

> >> 8. A few words on what to do about yum errors
> >> would be very useful, perhaps as a FAQ.
> > 
> > Hmm. Could you give an example of a specific yum error ?  I would think
> > that the most common problems are likely to be general network errors.
> I don't think so.
> I think it is clear from postings to the general Fedora mailing list
> that by far the most common problem is dependencies that cannot be resolved.
> These generally seem to be due to an injudicious choice of repositories.

That never seems to happen with Fedora Core and Extras, as far as I'm
aware -- or at least it never has happened to me, and I download random
stuff sometimes just to see what happens. :-)  Since Core and Extras are
all we document, anything else is outside our scope.

> You are the yum experts, but my advice in such a case would be
> that if "yum update" is failing and there is just one problematic package
> one should add "exclude=..." to yum.conf, at least temporarily.

Actually, we're not yum experts, we just try our best.  On good days, we
pretend to be documentation experts. ;-)  Hopefully the real yum experts
are looking at the docs and also making suggestions.

> The other problem that comes up pretty often is to do with GPG keys.
> >> 10. I think yum GPG keys cause more confusion than you realise.
> >> I would have mentioned the possibility of turning off key-checking
> >> in case one cannot find the key -
> >> of course as a second-best solution.
> > 
> > Further to what Paul has said, this issue came up on the yum mailing
> > list last week.  The yum developers take a strong line on unsigned
> > pacakges, and won't add features to make it easy for users to install
> > them.
> That's fine.
> But if they feel strongly about it
> they should add something to the yum error messages
> to suggest where users might find missing keys.
> Incidentally, since the keys seem to be put in /etc and/or /usr/share/doc
> I don't know why installing yum doesn't install these keys at least.

It does, the first time you use each repository.  (I'm speaking for FC4;
I don't know the status of yum in FC2 or 3 right now.)  The only keys
included are for official Fedora repositories, for obvious reasons.
Those keys are now kept in /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/ in FC4.  If you pick up
a .repo file from some other place, the author of that file (probably
the repository owner) should have a URL for their repo's GPG key in that
file.  If they do, yum asks you if you want to import that key.  If the
repo owner doesn't sign a package, or signs it wrong, yum can't fix

Again, Core and Extras are always built and signed by the Fedora build
systems (mostly automated now), so this tends not to happen there.
Other repos probably do similar things, but the Fedora Project doesn't
have any say in what they do.

> I was slightly perturbed by your belief
> that most yum difficulties arise from network problems
> since this certainly is not the case from my reading of postings on yum.

Please don't be perturbed, it was just Stuart's opinion.  Opinions can
be uninformed; that's why we have discussions.  I don't know either way.

> I think every tutorial should have a FAQ section;
> and it is important that the FAQs should be questions
> that actually arise.
> All too often FAQs are used, in my view,
> for authors to add material they want to add
> rather than answering questions people are really likely to ask.

I don't think every tutorial should have a FAQ section.  But I do agree
that user questions that the tutorial doesn't answer -- *and* which are
in the scope of the tutorial and this project as a whole -- should be
fixed in the tutorial.  That's why Fedora Documentation now has its own
product category on Bugzilla.  If you have a question that doesn't get
answered in a document that we publish, you can file a bug against it,
just like with a piece of software that doesn't work the way you like.
We are really excited that we will be able to track this kind of work
with the same tools and precision used by the Fedora software
developers.  I hope you'll take advantage of it.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing your take on the issues I
raise above.  Thanks for your continued input, since it is very helpful
to us.

Paul W. Frields, RHCE                          http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
 Fedora Documentation Project: http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/docs/

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