question on mergemaster

Bill Moran wmoran at
Mon Jan 19 10:35:12 PST 2004

I'm emailing the current maintainer of mergemaster to co-ordinate with him
to see if he'd be interested in patches along these lines if I made them.

Eric Anderson wrote:
> Bill Moran wrote:
>> rihad wrote:
>>> Hi. I was wondering if there are any improvements planned to be made to
>>> mergemaster? After today's cvsup I had to sit and keep pressing either
>>> "q" (to break out of the pager) or "i" to accept the new file. This *is*
>>> boring, considering there seemed to be no end to them and I eventually
>>> killed mergemaster, because I had started to get nervous and make silly
>>> typos :). It's just my toy home machine and there's only few files under
>>> /etc that I care about, and these mergemaster doesn't touch anyway (like
>>> fstab, rc.conf etc). Wouldn't it be great if one could add the "assume
>>> yes" flag so that it overwrites without prompting (like gentoo's
>>> etc-update does when you ask it). Currently I came up with this dirty
>>> hack to save myself from hundreds of confirmations, it kind of worked:
>>> # ( echo d; while :; do echo -e "q\ni"; done ) | mergemaster -i
>>> Is such an "no-prompt" option considered important enough to be
>>> integrated RSN or am I missing some obvious and convenient usage pattern
>>> everyone know about?
>>> Thanks in advance and sorry if this is a bit offtopic.
>> I'm going to chime in because this has hung over my head for a while.
>> I've considered writing and submitting a patch to mergemaster to do this
>> since the first time I used it.  The biggest problem with lookin at
>> _every_ file is that it makes the user more prone to error as the tedium
>> bores him.  Obviously, a switch the simply updates everything is
>> pretty much guaranteed to screw somebody! so that's not a good idea
>> either.
>> But I just thought of a potential improvement, and I thought I'd suggest
>> this to everyone and see what they think:
>> If mergemaster checked each file for a magic value, such as:
>> # mergemaster autoreplace
>> and automatically updated those files without prompting the user, then
>> users could add such a line to the beginning of each file in /etc that
>> they are comfortable updating without feedback.  It may seem like a lot
>> of work, but it's only done _once_ (although mergemaster would need to
>> be taught to preserve this magic when it updates the file)
>> The optimistic way to do this would be to have some sort of switch to
>> mergemaster to tell it to go into autoupdate mode, and it will only ask
>> for files that contain a "negative magic" like:
>> # mergemaster noautoreplace
>> In which case the administrator should put this string at the beginning
>> of every file that he tweaks in /etc
> I like the optimistic approach.. Should some files have this in by 
> default?  Like rc.conf?
> How about a few other options, like:
> # mergemaster neverreplace
> For files that should never be touched (in my case, printcap)

Bill Moran
Potential Technologies

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