Subject: RE: Default package installation: intermixed vs. separate
To: Tim Rightnour <>
From: Curt Sampson <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 01/10/1999 20:26:45
On Sun, 10 Jan 1999, Tim Rightnour wrote:

> Whoooo..  thats scarry..  meaning if the user doesn't manually create
> /usr/pkg..  it installs packages in /usr??
> I dont like that idea one bit..  no commercial operating system does that.. 

Well, I won't ask for proof of that point. But I will point out
that we're a free OS, and that another free OS that's done a hell
of a lot better in the marketplace than we've ever dreamed of does
just that. In addition, the BSD that's bigger than us does something
just as bad or worse in many people's eyes: it dumps the stuff in
/usr/local. (I certainly consider this worse behaviour.)

I think part of the problem here may be that I'm talking to NetBSD
developers, and NetBSD developers really do see `NetBSD' (meaning
the stuff we distribute in base.tgz, comp.tgz, etc.) as something
qualitatively different from the software in pkgsrc. Personally,
I don't see the difference; I trust NetBSD-supplied tools (sysinst)
to deal with the stuff in base.tgz, and I trust NetBSD-supplied
tools (pkg_add) to deal with the stuff in emacs-20.3.tgz.

In both cases, NetBSD developers are trusted to test the software
(most of which is not written by NetBSD developers), and have full
control over the source code (including changes to it to fix bugs
or make it more compatable) and the paths where it's installed.

Perhaps makers of Linux distributions, since everything comes from
`outside,' don't see this separation between `their' code and
`outside' code and thus Linux folks don't have a problem with emacs
installing into /usr/bin/emacs. At any rate, I can tell you that
the /usr/pkg thing is a really hard sell to users new to NetBSD
because nobody else uses it; to us it may be sensible, but most of
the world perceives it as a gratuitous incompatability. 

My proposal was to have the default work the way the rest of the
world expects it, because those of us familiar with NetBSD have
the knowedge to make the one minor change to do it the `NetBSD
way.' The alternative means that those of us who do know that a
change needs to be made don't need to make it, and those that don't
know are the ones who do need to make it. That seems to me a way
to make sure that we make non-NetBSDers just a little bit less
happy with NetBSD.

Anyway, that's the end of my opinions on this subject. Personally
I'm not affected either way, since I'm one of the ones with the
knowedge to set things up the way I want. But the arguments I've
had on this subject make me feel that people are not working very
hard to understand what potential users of NetBSD who don't currently
use it are looking for, and I'm getting really tired of fighting
for a group that I'm not even a member of.

So if anyone needs clarifications of my thoughts on this matter,
I'm happy to supply them in private e-mail. But I will argue about
it no more. Todd Vierling has the notes I've made to this point,
he can continue promoting the adoption of whatever portions of
those he likes, if he feels so inclined.

Curt Sampson  <>   604 801 5335   De gustibus, aut bene aut nihil.
The most widely ported operating system in the world: