mtools vs X11 (Re: FreeBSD Port: syslinux-3.72)

Steven Kreuzer skreuzer at
Fri Mar 20 14:47:07 PDT 2009

On Mar 20, 2009, at 5:24 PM, Cynthia Flynn wrote:

> Steven Kreuzer wrote:
>> On Mar 19, 2009, at 4:06 AM, perryh at wrote:
>>> Gary Jennejohn <gary.jennejohn at> wrote:
>>>> Luigi Rizzo <rizzo at> wrote:
>>>>> ... Cynthia Flynn wrote:
>>>> [snip - syslinux pulls in too much X11 stuff]
>>>>> I think the extra dependencies that you find listed for syslinux:
>>>>> [snip]
>>>>> come directly from mtools ...
>>>> Yeah.  It looks like mtools uses X11 by default, which IMHO is
>>>> incorrect.  Instead it should have an option to turn X11 _on_,
>>>> rather than one for turning it _off_, as it currently does.
>>> IMO it is a POLA violation for mtools to depend on X11 *at all*.
>>> Instead of having an option, maybe the port should be split so that
>>> mtools itself just provides the code to access FAT filesystems, and
>>> (say) mtools-gui does the fancy display stuff.
>> mtools already supports WITHOUT_X11 so if you don't want the GUI  
>> stuff, you can build the port
>> without it. Personally, I think it makes more sense for mtools to  
>> be the full and complete representation
>> of the actual program.
> Can someone confirm for me that a normal port install of mtools  
> brings up a configuration menu in which the WITHOUT_X11 option can  
> be set? I do not remember seeing any such thing, but it has probably  
> been 6 months since I last tried it.

when you do a make install for the mtools port, it does not prompt you  
if you would like to build the port without X11. This can be enabled  
by passing
-DWITHOUT_X11 to make, or adding WITHOUT_X11=yes to make.conf to apply  
it to all ports that you build on that system

> Perhaps I am not as typical a user as I thought, and you folks  
> certainly aren't obligated to address the requirements of niche  
> users, but if the setting of WITHOUT_X11 is not clearly presented  
> for setting during a normal port install then I would humbly suggest  
> that for all practical purposes it doesn't exist for most users.

Can we consider people who use the CLI an advanced user? If so, the  
expectation that they will be able to build a port with -DWITHOUT_X11  
is not unreasonable.
People who are more likely to use the GUI are the ones who will not be  
aware of the WITHOUT_X11 knob.

Steven Kreuzer

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