[nSLUG] Debian 3.1 (sarge) is released

Ben Armstrong synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
Thu Jun 9 16:23:24 ADT 2005

On Wed, 2005-06-08 at 20:44 -0300, bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca wrote:
> Yes, and I am glad they at least put that warning there so anyone 
> accustomed to administering any other ("normal") linux distro isn't 
> completely sandbagged.  Now, of course, they have to read at least one 
> extra man page (which might not be available, see above) and figure out 
> what the heck is going on in /etc/modutils.  I guess there is some Debian 
> developer who can explain why this non-standard way of doing things is a 
> Good Thing, but as far as I am concerned it is a brain-dead annoyance.

You need to consider what packages providing kernel modules should do
given that:

1. in Debian one and only one package may "own" a given conf file
2. whenever it is reasonable, Debian makes sure a package works right
after it is installed without first requiring manual post-isntall
3. many kernel modules may need to add stuff to /etc/modules.conf

So, it seems we have a problem:

a. A kernel module package cannot itself modify /etc/modules.conf
because that would be violating #1 (see Debian Policy section 10.7, and
in particular 10.7.4).
b. We could compromise on #2, installing the kernel module but leaving
the user to add the necessary "magic" to /etc/modules.conf, but this is
not what most users expect, so they would view the package as "broken".
c. Fortunately, there is a solution to #3, and that is to make it a
generated file, having each kernel module package provide an individual
conf clause to go into /etc/modprobe.d/

It turns out that this "non-standard ... braindead annoyance" has good
technical reasons behind it after all.  Contemplate for a minute why it
is that Debian is such a rock-solid system.  Think about Debian Policy
10.7.4 and what the chaos that breaking that policy might lead to.

You'll find other cases where conf files have been modularized in
Debian, much to the annoyance of users who, like yourself, are used to
the "standard way".  The standard way, it turns out, works just fine if
you are willing to accept that packages should not be configured so that
they can run out of the box.  But when you try to put together a system
that "just works" you need to be a little tricky to ensure that packages
don't inadvertently damage each other when they are installed, removed
or upgraded.  If you don't like this approach, maybe Debian isn't for
you.  I hear Slackware is great for people who want ultimate control
over how their systems are put together.



More information about the nSLUG mailing list