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Re: Apache should never be a mandatory dependency

On Sun, 18 May 2014 08:52:13 +0100
Jonathan Perkin <> wrote:

> * On 2014-05-18 at 05:06 BST, Alistair Crooks wrote:
> > What I would suggest is a "generic" style of package, let's call it
> > 
> >     pkgsrc/metapackages/webserver
> > 
> > It's not just webservers this can be used for - I can think of
> > editors (and, within editors, sub classes of vi, emacs and other
> > packages), browsers, versions of scheme, common lisp, shells, etc.
> > 
> > Anyway, to get back to the worked example - this will make sure a
> > webserver is installed.  It can take preferences from a setting in
> > /etc/mk.conf (on a per-platform basis), of the form
> > 
> >     GENERIC.webserver=      apache22
> > 
> > If no preference is given at package installation time, it will
> > select the default one for you.

This is certainly one possible way. However, it won't reduce
dependencies, and over the course of this discussion, it became clear
to me that a shifting of dependencies, though solving my personal
issue, would not really simplify pkgsrc - neither for maintainers nor
for users. This being said, I now do not think it's wise to have the
user define which web-browser should be used, but that it's much
better to remove such dependencies at all.

When someone is installing e.g. PHP, it's most likely he will install a
webserver, too - but not even necessarily on the same machine. With
tools like FastCGI, you can have a scaled environment, with web-servers
on several different hosts, and PHP on other hosts. Software like
Roundcube, Drupal, etc. will require PHP on the machine they are
installed, but not a webserver. If we have a setup like the above, one
webserver would always be installed, and that is simply not necessary.

We shouldn't treat our users to be of spoon-feed-age, and assume that
they do possess a certain knowledge. If they don't, they have to either
learn by reading manuals and asking questions or they better don't run
their own server.

Therefore, like it's being said by others several times before, I'd vote
for a removal of dependencies, instead of shifting them.

> Users regularly get confused because some random package happens to
> need to pull in a MySQL client library, and due to the DEPENDS
> matching will pull in the first match, which is often not what they
> want to use.  When they come later to install their preferred MySQL
> server, they can't due to conflicts, and have to unwind the
> installation back so that they start with their preferred version.

Yes, that is something we already have in pkgsrc right now, too.
And not just with mysql, but as this topic is about apache - with
apache, which is pulled in even though not required / wanted.

That's why I started this discussion, to find a solution for this
problem. If we can find a solution for similar problems with other
packages (Alistair mentioned editors already) all the better.

> When the dependency is soft, like with a web server, then I would
> definitely not want any of this getting in the way.  If people really
> want it regardless, that's fine, but please can we have a global knob
> to turn it off completely to save us having more diffs.
> We're working to remove dependencies to make packages more flexible,
> rather than the other way around.


- Volkmar

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