[linux-elitists] [rgb@phy.duke.edu: Re: [Beowulf] hpl size problems]

Ben Finney ben@benfinney.id.au
Tue Oct 11 17:24:02 PDT 2005

On 04-Oct-2005, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> From: "Robert G. Brown" <rgb@phy.duke.edu>
> Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2005 09:26:29 -0400
> [...]
> I happen to think that the metadata in the package itself should be
> in xml format as a "meta" design choice for a variety of reasons,
> but even this isn't a necessary thing, only desireable

Ugh. I find the easy-editing of package metadata files (RPM foo.spec,
Debian control, etc.) to be far more valuable than any advantage that
might come from hierarchically structured metadata.

To paraphrase JWZ[0], Some people, when confronted with a data set,
think "I know, I'll use XML". Now they have two problems. XML is the
right choice where a highly flexible hierarchical data structure is
needed, but the tradeoff, loss of simple editing with any text editor
I choose, had better be worth it.

> Finally, one MUST NOT FORGET that rpms tend to be FUBAR not because
> of any particular weakness in rpm (the design) per se or in
> rpmbuild, but out of egregious user error.

Indeed. The much-vaunted package quality of Debian's official packages
is not due to the format they use, but due to the package policy[1],
and the QA requirement that all deviations from that policy are
release-critical bugs.

The reason I choose Debian is because they seem to be doing the best
at package quantity *and* quality. The APT toolset is useful only
because the packages are of a consistently high quality. Any package
format, with sufficient metadata and QA rigour, could do the same job. 

[0] <URL:http://www.jwz.org/hacks/marginal.html>
[1] <URL:http://www.debian.org/doc/devel-manuals#policy>

 \        "As soon as I get through with you, you'll have a clear case |
  `\                for divorce and so will my wife."  -- Groucho Marx |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au>
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