Subject: why does pkg_install continue to use GNU Tar?!?!?!?!
To: NetBSD Userlevel Technical Discussion List <tech-userlevel@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 05/07/2002 17:14:42
I just finally encountered a forced pkg_install upgrade on a system that
doesn't have GNU Tar (and doesn't want it).  I was rather surprised and
dismayed to find that pkg_create still requires GNU Tar.  I haven't been
paying particular attention to changes in pkg_install, since I've been
using my own version for a year now, but I though this issue would have
been taken care of long ago.

Isn't "pax" the primary officially supported archiver on NetBSD?  It's
in /bin ([g]tar isn't), after all, and it's been there for years.  The
in-tree GNU Tar is also very OLD!  It's based on the 1.11.2 1993
release, while 1.12 has been out since 1997!

A simple link to /bin/tar and /bin/cpio pretty much eliminates any need
for GNU Tar entirely.  Although I'm not 100% certain I believe all the
necessary fixes to make the pax front-end to 'tar' sufficiently
compliant with GNU Tar have been available since 1999/10/22 (not long
after 1.4.1 was tagged, IIUC), and one final desirable cleanup (-O) has
been available since 2000/03/30.  All of these fixes have been in 1.5
from the very beginning of its branch.  These fixes correspond with the
fixes I made to my own copy of pax and I've used it successfully for
nearly a year now with my own version of pkg_install.

I also submitted a PR last year (# 13699) including those fixes from my
pkg_install so that it could use the 'tar' front-end to 'pax'
exclusively.  The only reply to the pax-related portion of that PR was
an informal question about testing (and the answer is easy enough to
find with a trivial test of pax directly).

The only thing that makes this tricky in pkgsrc is that supported
systems have a /usr/bin/tar which is GNU Tar.  My PR#13699 recommended
instead that the /bin/tar link to /bin/pax be created.  This could be
done by a new pkgsrc/pkgtools/pkg_install "INSTALL" script, but it would
leave older systems with two slightly disparate "tar" commands.  I don't
think this would be a "bad" thing, but it might confuse some folks.  The
more certain fix though would be to modify pkg_create to use the 'pax'
command-line directly instead of relying on the 'tar' front-end.  I'm
considering updating my pkg_create patches to use the native pax
interface, but I've not done that yet....

As for systems too old to have a modern enoung 'pax', well even a
"DEPENDS" added to pkg_install right now to require a new & similar
pkgsrc/pkgtools/pax module to upgrade ancient systems....

								Greg A. Woods

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