Limitations of Ports System

Stephen Montgomery-Smith stephen at
Fri Dec 14 19:21:10 PST 2007

Paul Schmehl wrote:
> --On December 14, 2007 5:21:02 PM -0800 Brian <bri at> wrote:
>> Information does indeed need to be gathered, and while even the ports
>> list will only grab a small percentage of FreeBSD users, other options
>> would likely grab a lot less.  Plus, most of the users here are
>> knowledgeable enough to give decent input.  For those of you that don't
>> like change may I suggest the book that led to
>>  It is really in all of our best
>> interest to have the product evolve, the alternative is much worse.
> This really is getting quite irritating.  Not one person on this list 
> has *ever* said they don't want to entertain new ideas for ports.  Not 
> one person on this list has said they don't like change.  *All* of the 
> complaints have been along the lines of "go write some code and stop 
> filling up this list with posts".  And that is *precisely* the point.
> Yet the proponents of the Aryeh bandwagon keep throwing up this straw 
> man that those of us who have tired of the useless back and forth are 
> refusing to listen and uninterested in change, when *nothing* could be 
> further from the truth.  ports@ is *not* a development list.  Its 
> purpose is to provide news about ports, discuss problems with ports, get 
> advice on porting and so forth.  Or, to quote its charter, "Discussions 
> concerning FreeBSD's “ports collection” (/usr/ports), ports 
> infrastructure, and general ports coordination efforts. This is a 
> technical mailing list for which strictly technical content is expected."
> Get that?  "Strictly technical".  "How do you feel about the present 
> design" or "what don't you like about the present design" or "if you 
> could change something about ports, what would it be" are *not* 
> appropriate discussions for this list.

You are the first person who has raised any kind of coherent argument as 
to why perhaps Aryeh shouldn't be asking these questions on ports at . 
Your argument is based on the interpretation of the phrase "strictly 
technical" that appears in the charter, because Aryeh's posts are 
clearly in line with every other phrase in the charter.  Personally I 
would not agree with your interpretation that Aryeh's posts contradict 
"strictly technical," but then again I have never really thought long 
and hard about what "strictly technical" means in this context.

Now to your point about "straw men", I have refrained from doing as 
others have done, and have not tried to ascribe motives as to why this 
particular discussion has so offended people.  But the overreaction to 
Aryeh's posts is definitely a mystery, and I can understand why people 
are speculating.

The idea of a new mailing list: if the discussion about ports design got 
to overwhelm ports@, then it would become time to create a new mailing 
list.  But up until now, the ports design posts with genuine content (as 
opposed to the "get out of here" posts) have been sufficiently few and 
sufficiently non-disruptive to this mailing list, that I don't think it 
is worth while to do this.

If people simply responded to Aryeh's posts with strictly technical 
answers, the whole discussion would have been a few posts.  I do agree 
that Aryeh's discussions are not along the lines of "port XXX is not 
working", but I just don't see why both kinds of posting cannot coexist 
in peaceful harmony, with a split happening only if one set of 
discussions threatens to overwhelm the other.


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