Subject: pkg/TYPE
To: Matthew Orgass <>
From: Miles Nordin <carton@Ivy.NET>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 05/28/1999 01:10:54
On Fri, 28 May 1999, Matthew Orgass wrote:

> add a pkg/TYPE file that gives a very short (one
> or two word) description of the type of package

I think this is inherently unclear enough to evolve toward uselessness.  I
see two problems immediately:

 1. TYPE is a concept that only exists for a few packages--those which are
    redundant, have competitors: like web servers, word processors, X11
    clocks.  For most packages, TYPE == category.  Intuitively, this is
    not so, but if you look through pkgsrc it soon becomes depressingly
    apparent that, basically, it is.  What ``type'' of package is CVS?

 2. Even where TYPE's are useful, TYPE's are poorly defined and easy to
    argue about. So are categories, but at least with the categories
    there are a few established broad categories to choose from.  
    Clearly, the purpose of TYPE's is for two or more packages to have 
    identical TYPE's and thus indicate some kind of association, but 
    compared to categories, TYPE's would be (a) more numerous, and (b)
    stored in pkg/TYPE, two factors which combine to make falling into an
    existing type less likely.

It sounds like the logical impact of your suggestion would be better
accomplished by a tree-structured category system replacing the current
single-level-deep system.  I think this is a bad idea because
 (a) the current system works well, and
 (b) CVS doesn't deal well with moving directories around.

Perhaps a better implementation of pkg/TYPE would use a special syntax to
maintain the hallucination of a deeper category tree, superimposed upon
our current one-level tree.  This is basically the same as what you said,
except that the bytype/ symlink spaghetti is more than one directory deep,
and it implies an understanding of objection (2) above.  Objection (1) is
solved by assuming TYPE==category when pkg/TYPE does not exist--so the
package appears in exactly the same spot under bytype/ as it does in the
main category tree.

The current one-word category, one-line COMMENT, one-paragraph DESCR makes
sense to me.  While I don't strongly object to a pkg/TYPE, I don't
understand why you desire it.  If anything, I'd want an optional pkg/RANT
that isn't used by any of the targets, in which a packager can document
and discuss absolutely whatever pleases him.  As you can imagine, I often
find myself writing things that are too wordy to go in DESCR (if i ever
get around to submitting a package).  I'm not suggesting this--just giving
an example of something inane that's more useful than TYPE's.

Miles Nordin / 1-888-857-2723
555 Bryant Street PMB 182 / Palo Alto, CA 94301-1700