ports structure and improvement suggestions

Paul Schmehl pauls at utdallas.edu
Mon May 8 22:14:19 UTC 2006

Sideris Michael wrote:
> Maybe I am not an expert regarding ports, but I thought there is a way to convert 
> all ports Makefiles without any problems. Maybe I am wrong.
You're wrong about something much more fundamental than that.  *Only* 
the port maintainer knows why he or she created the port the way they 
did.  They may have *very* good reasons for *not* using OPTIONS, and for 
anyone to assume that OPTIONS (or any other knob in Makefiles) should 
simply be forced upon all port maintainers is simply wrong.  I suspect 
you'll run off more than a few by doing that.

If you think the port committers, who are simply trying to stay above 
water, have any idea what most of the ports they commit actually do, 
you're dreaming.  No one can know what 14,000+ ports do.  That's *why* 
you have ports maintainers - because they (supposedly) actually know 
what the ports they maintain do, and they care about doing it right. 
(I'm generalizing, of course, but I'm certain it's true for the vast 
majority of them.)

The first thing *you* should do is "grep -r 'MAINTAINER=' /usr/ports/* | 
grep 'ports at FreeBSD.org' " and locate some ports that no longer have 
maintainers.  Then volunteer to maintain them.  *After* you've gained 
some experience (and I guarantee you will make mistakes and learn new 
things), *then* you can suggest major changes to the way ports are 

For me personally, OPTIONS are optional, depending upon the port I'm 
working on.  For some, OPTIONS would do nothing, because there *are* no 
OPTIONS.  When it's appropriate, I use it.  When it's not, I don't.

Paul Schmehl (pauls at utdallas.edu)
Adjunct Information Security Officer
The University of Texas at Dallas
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