Suggested improvements for ports

M. L. Dodson mldodson at
Fri Jan 11 12:45:36 PST 2008

Guido Falsi wrote:
> Mark Linimon wrote:
>> On Fri, Jan 11, 2008 at 06:40:35PM +0100, Guido Falsi wrote:
>>> I think that too much formalization in the porting rules would harm
>>> the system.
>> That seems to have been the community consensus in the past.
>> Nevertheless, the PH could use some improvement.  Most of what I've
>> tried to put in there is "here's what we recommend as the preferred
>> practice".  There's not much "you can't do this" -- most of that
>> deals with things that e.g. break INDEX or otherwise wreak havoc.
> Obviously some rules are needed to maintain the structure, I meant no
> attack to that.
> I simply wanted to say that I agree with the policy stated above.
> Putting rules like strict limiting numbers to items or the like would be
>  against the ports logic. I think.

This thread seems like one we covered in the recent past.  I have
held off until now, but I think people are missing the
perspectives of many port maintainers, maybe most.  Those I mean
are subject experts that are not computer scientists.  I am a
biochemist, but I maintain two ports (neither a "biggie").

We, and I am so bold as to speak for this group, see the need for
standards, wish the ports system was perfect, but also are very
sensitive to the doctrine of "perfect as the enemy of good".  We
write ports because of convenience, by and large.  Heavy
requirements on port structure will just cause us to quit writing
our ports, or cause us to keep them in house.

In chemistry there is something called transition state theory.
It posits that the rate of a reaction (here the likelihood I will
write a port for a piece of software I use) is directly
proportional to the inverse of the energetic barrier height
between reactants and products.

If you raise the barrier height by putting hard and fast
requirements that are much more onerous than currently exist, you
will see the rate of new port formation for other than "biggie"
software fall dramatically.  IMO.

Please don't let the search for computer science elegance break
the ports system. FreeBSD ports is the one place where the
developers and the users meet on the street.

Bud Dodson

PS, by similar reasoning, I think the Ports 2.0 project is a loser
in the real world.

M. L. Dodson
Email:	mldodson-at-comcast-net
Phone:	eight_three_two-five_63-386_one

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