Subject: Re: CVS & Perl in distribution... please
To: Peter Galbavy <>
From: John F. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 11/24/1993 16:45:22
> > > And while on the subject, is there any chance perl could be made a/the
> > Hey yeah! And then we can make cnews and inn and all the gnu tools
> > and emacs and all the pbm tools a part too.
> And thanks for that thoughtful, sincere and not at all sarcastic reply.

While Theo's response might have been a tad extreme, he makes perfectly
valid points.  There are a lot of (sizable) tools that a lot of people think
one would be crazy to do without (like, oh, inn, emacs, pbm, and perl), but
the system works well enough without them; well enough, at least, to obtain
them seperately and compile them.

On whether perl should specifically be the Scripting Language of Choice, well,
even Larry Wall writes the odd shell script now and then, so you're not going
to be able to get rid of /bin/sh anytime soon; there are some people with
relatively small hard drives who'd like to be able to do without perl (and
other large subsystems) because they aren't planning to do any scripting
themselves, they just want to use the old traditional tools to get some other
task done.

Looking at his exact claims,
> > And pretty soon it is
> > 	(1) unmaintainable because we keep having to upgrade tools
> > 	    when new versions come out

It's already pretty tough for them to chase the GNU Tool Upgrade Of The Week
for the GNU tools in use; add a few more substantial packages, and they'll
wind up spending all of their time tracking down upgrades, installing them,
testing them, and fixing them, leaving no time left over for bickering about
which X console interface to use :-).

> > 	(2) the sources become un-ftpable because they are so large.

I have a 56Kb line to the Internet here, and I frown every month or so when
I decide to pick up fresh .tar.gz files for my home machine in case I missed
a CVS announcement here or there.  I shudder to think what the poor slobs with
9600 bps links go through.  And you want to add a megabyte to this already
substantial pile?

> > Perl compiles out of the box. I don't think it needs to be in there.

Indeed it does, as I've done it.  Note that if the NetBSD distribution were
"...just the kernel sources and the compiler", you wouldn't get very far --
since you've also got to have /sbin/init, /bin/sh, and /usr/games/nethack
to get any work done :-).  ("Why, then, is nethack included?"  (a) You got me,
I rarely unpack that .gz file :-)  (b) probably because it's on the 4.4 tape,
and calling NetBSD "BSD" without at least including everything BSD includes
is misleading).

> If you are not interested in what users have to say, then 

They more certainly are interested in what users have to say, but bug reports
get a heck of a lot more priority with them than missing-feature reports (and
I rather favor that approach, myself).

They *have* to draw the line *somewhere*; I regard news as absolutely essential
to a "useful" home system, so why isn't it in the distribution?  Emacs, well,
we just won't TALK about vi, now will we?  (:-)  And NEC2, the Numerical
Electromagnetic Code, how do they expect amateur radio operators to make use
of NetBSD for ham radio if it doesn't include a pre-compiled antenna analysis

Perl is an immensely useful tool; I have it (and someday I might even get
around to using it :-).  But it isn't indispensable, and (a) NetBSD is
perfectly usable without it, and (b) anyone capable of typing

	more README
	sh Configure

can have perl in the privacy of their own homes.