[HEADS UP] perl symlinks in /usr/bin will be gone

Garance A Drosihn drosih at rpi.edu
Sat Jan 29 18:20:19 PST 2005

At 10:08 PM +0100 1/29/05, Anton Berezin wrote:
>[ok, returning it to ports@ too, there might be some interest]
>On Sat, Jan 29, 2005 at 01:03:52PM -0800, Kris Kennaway wrote:
>>  On Sat, Jan 29, 2005 at 09:59:40PM +0100, Anton Berezin wrote:
>  > > > BTW, this goes beyond what I was asking for, which was just
>  > > > "remove the dangling symlinks when the package is deinstalled
>  > > > [because they are now nonfunctional]"
>  > >
>>  > True.  Do you oppose to this change, and if yes, why?
>  > It seems pretty disruptive, especially to users of the -stable
>  > branch, and I'm not sure there's a good reason for doing it.
>The thing is, that the whole idea of touching /usr/bin at all made
>sense when perl was in the base system and we needed a way to
>"replace" it with a version from ports.
>Since we don't have it in the base for quite some time, there is
>no good reason to continue cluttering /usr/bin with those symlinks.
>So this needs to be done eventually, and this seemed as good time
>as any to introduce this change.

I think this is an extremely bad idea.

At the very least, it is user-hostile to make a change like this in
a -stable branch.  5.3 is now officially advertised as a stable branch,
and it should never be open to extremely disruptive changes like this.
Some unfortunate administrator is going to install this change, and it
will brake all kinds of scripts.  Scripts they didn't write.  Scripts
that they might not have access to.  Scripts hidden away in cron jobs
that people (including that administrator) have long forgotten about.
Users will execute the administrators.  Killing off FreeBSD admins is
not going to help the long-term viability of FreeBSD.

Looking at a recent installation of Redhat Linux, it has perl as
/usr/bin/perl.  MacOS 10 has perl in /usr/bin/perl.  I *think* it is
also true that Solaris has perl installed in /usr/bin/perl (or at
least it does on solaris machines at RPI...).  That means there are
at least three large communities who will be writing scripts that
assume perl is in /usr/bin/perl, and who will not be happy when those
scripts have to be modified to work on FreeBSD.

I see no advantage making the incompatible change that you propose.  I
understand the idea of it being "cleaner", but as a practical matter it
is only going to cause a lot of problems, and it will solve nothing.

I agree completely with the idea that the symlink should only exist
when perl is actually installed on the system.  But if perl is installed,
then there is an awful lot of history which indicates we should have
the symlink (or some similar place-marker) in /usr/bin/perl for it.

Garance Alistair Drosehn            =   gad at gilead.netel.rpi.edu
Senior Systems Programmer           or  gad at freebsd.org
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute    or  drosih at rpi.edu

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