REINPLACE vs. perl -i; and why ports are too complex for their own good

Doug Barton DougB at
Thu Feb 12 12:42:00 PST 2004

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[ Followup to ports please. ]

On Thu, 12 Feb 2004, Dag-Erling Smørgrav wrote:

> BTW, I don't see why REINPLACE_CMD couldn't simply be ${PERL} -p
> ${REINPLACE_ARGS} on systems that don't have sed -i, since both 4.x
> and 5.x prior to 500036 have Perl in the base system.

Because a lot of people removed perl from their system, but would still
like to use ports.

I had a conversation the other day with someone about some of my
frustrations with the current state of the ports system. What I intended
to be a humorous "rant" turned more emotionally intense than I had
intended, and if I offended that person, I apologize.

The question I didn't do a very good job of answering at the time was,
"What is it about ports that you think is broken?" This situation is a
very good example of that. When the "remove perl as a build dependency
for ports" thing was happening, there was a great deal of discussion
about how to re-invent the 'perl -i' functionality. I stated ad nauseum
at the time that all we needed was to replace 'perl -i' with 'sed foo >
bar; mv bar foo'. The virtue of this solution is that it works with
every version of FreeBSD ever, without adding any extra dependencies.
Unfortunately, I was shouted down by the people who wanted to keep ports
"simple." Now, years later, we are STILL arguing about this topic, and
the people who thought REINPLACE was a good idea are still wrong, for
all the same reasons.

In a nutshell, this is an excellent example of what I think is wrong
with the ports project at the moment. Please note, my intention here is
NOT to denigrate the incredible (and often thankless) contributions by
the people who make the ports tree work on a day to day basis. My
intention is simply to say that, as a person who's "been there, done
that," I have concerns about where we're going, and because I really do
care about making sure that we still have a ports tree that works in the
future, I think it's important to raise this concern.



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