[RFC/P] Port System Re-Engineering (Repost from -ports@)

John Merryweather Cooper john_m_cooper at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 3 08:25:56 PST 2007

Aryeh M. Friedman wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> [Repost from -ports@]
> As has been hashed out in -ports@ over the last few days there is at
> least a need to examine weither or not the current ports system should
> remain as is or potentially be re-engineered in the future (estimates
> if and when needed vary from ASAP to 10-15 years).   I have
> volunteered to undertake a feasibility/pilot project to examine what
> changes (if any) are needed in the system (for the purposes of this
> thread I will not venture any of my own suggestions).   I have the
> following broad questions for people:
> 1. What is more important to your personal use of FreeBSD (the ports
> system, the underlaying OS, some other aspect)?
Underlying OS.
> 2. How frequently do you interact with the ports systems and what is
> the most common interaction you have with it?
Daily.  Updating.
> 3. What is the single best aspect of the current system?
Easy to implement ports.
> 4. What is the single worst aspect of the current system?
Slow rebuild of portupgrade database (much improved in recent versions).
> 5. If you where a new FreeBSD user how would your answers above
> change?   If you where brand new to UNIX how whould they change?
In my experience, people from a Windoze background don't understand 
dependencies at all.  Everything "just happens" under the hood during 
the install.  This gives the impression that installing software works 
better under Windoze, but this impression is false.  Dependency bugs (in 
the form of inconsistent/out-dated DLLs) have been a source of 
instability since the beginning.
> 6. Assuming that there was no additional work on your behalf would you
> use a new system if it corrected your answer to number 4?
> 7. Same as question 6 but for your answer on question 3?
However, to be acceptable, porting software into the build environment 
as to be at least as easy as it is now.  In fact, porting is far more 
important than installing.
> 8. How long have you used FreeBSD and/or UNIX in general?
This is my 8th year.
> 9.  That is your primary use(s) for your FreeBSD machine(s) (name upto 3)?
Development, port maintenance, writing (desktop applications).
> 10. Assuming there is no functional difference what is your preferred
> installation method for 3rd party software?
In the best of all possible worlds, installs would be self-contained 
(they would install correctly on the target with no intervention from 
the user).  In the real world, I want 3rd party software to follow the 
ports system (whatever it may be).  If 3rd part software does NOT track 
the ports systems, all manner of difficult-to-debug bugs will propagate.
> 11. On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) please rate the
> importance of the following aspects of the ports system?
>        a. User Interface
a => 4 (but see GNOME, KDE, and Webmin)
>        b. Consistency of behaviors and interactions
b => 8
>        c. Accuracy in dependant port installations
c => 10
>        d. Internal record keeping
d => 6
>        e. Granularity's of the port management system
e => 8
> 12. Please rate your personal technical skill level?
> - --
> Aryeh M. Friedman
> FloSoft Systems
> Developer, not business, friendly
> http://www.flosoft-systems.com
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