HEADS UP for maintainers of web applications

Doug Barton dougb at FreeBSD.org
Fri May 12 20:25:28 UTC 2006

Pav Lucistnik wrote:
> Doug Barton pí¹e v èt 11. 05. 2006 v 02:17 -0700:
>> Pav Lucistnik wrote:
>>> Hi people,
>>> it will soon become mandatory to stop installing web applications into
>>> Apache specific directories, like ${PREFIX}/www/data,
>>> ${PREFIX}/www/cgi-bin etc.
>> How did those directories become "apache specific," and where was that
>> decision and the prohibitive policy discussed and agreed to?
> www/data and www/cgi-bin comes from the Apache distributions.

Um, so what? There is no reason we cannot standardize their use on FreeBSD
just because some particular family of web servers wants to use them too.

> Other web servers does not necessarily use these directories.

Once again, so what? If you're talking about changing something, let's
change the new/less popular programs to use our standard.

> Our localbase mtree only contains www.

Personally I have always felt that adding www was a mistake, but I won't
repaint that bikeshed here.

> I believe this decision was made by Apache port maintainer (clement)
> some months ago.

With due respect to Clement, I don't see his maintaining the apache ports as
giving him authority to dictate how those directories are used, or how other
applications get installed.

>>> All web applications should be now installed into ${PREFIX}/www/appname.
>> Why? What benefit does this give us, and what was the cost of doing it the
>> way it's been done for a long time already?
> It gives us consistency.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  -Emerson

> Up until now, every maintainer installed the
> files where they seemed fit.

How DARE those wily maintainers actually exercise some free thinking!

> With this policy, user can reasonably
> expect to find newly installed app in predictable place.

In some cases, this is a virtue, but in many others it adds complexity where
it's not needed. I maintain a moderately complex web based application that
installs things in:

I have gone to great pains to make sure that my application works for the
user right out of the box. No modifications to the standard apache conf file
are needed, no symlinks are needed, nada. The change you suggest would
violate POLA for just about every aspect of my port, not to mention creating
an upgrade nightmare for its users. Please explain how this is useful or
beneficial to them.

> It gives us independency from Apache.  People may want to use their web
> apps on top of lighttpd or any other web server.

Once again, change the newer applications that have a smaller user base to
use the FreeBSD standard directories. That's what the ports tree is for.
This "independence from apache" is a completely specious argument. Those
directories mean what we say they mean, regardless of how and when they are

> And, most importantly for me, it fixes pkg-plist fallout from recent php
> change.

Sorry, you have the cart and the horse confused. If php needs to be fixed,
fix it. But don't try to jam every other web based port maintainer into your
version of what the world should look like.

Since I started maintaining ports, this is either the 4th or 5th attempt to
remake the www tree into someone's uniquely skewed view. It gets really
boring after a while.


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