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Re: pkgin package repository message

On Sat, 8 Jun 2024 at 20:19, Greg Troxel <> wrote:
> David Brownlee <> writes:
> > It occurs to me that it would be helpful to provide a way for a binary
> > package repository to inject some form of message into pkgin users.
> >
> > This could be used to tell 9.0 and 9.1 users that they need to upgrade
> > to >= 9.2, or that a repository has stopped being updated and they
> > need to switch somewhere else, or some critical issue in pkgin
> >
> > It could be as simple as a text file in the package dir, automatically
> > checked and downloaded by pkgin, combined with logic to display it
> > always (bonus points for having pkgin commane line option to stop
> > showing the message until it changes)
> >
> > What do people think?
> It's like MESSAGE and I don't like it :-)

Well, maybe, a little... if MESSAGE:
- had been implemented to stop the UI and prompt the user to confirm to continue
- had only been used for "stop the world you need to see this"
(critical data loss) type situations

> Is this really a problem?  Are there people out there who are running
> 9.0, not 9.3 or so, and who don't read netbsd-announce?

I'm having trouble with phrasing a reply to this, because it feels
somewhat like I'm being an asshole. I'll apologise up front, but I
feel this is an important feature.

I think encouraging users to read netbsd-announce is a great idea, but
I do not believe it is in any way realistic to expect to get everyone
running 9.0 to do so. Indeed, I think people running 9.0 as opposed to
9.2 or later are probably more likely proportionally to not be
following netbsd-announce and similar.

> Should we fix that by making it clear that if you are using netbsd and not reading
> that list, you are probably going to miss out on important information?

We should do that, but it is by definition incomplete, and does not
preclude other action

pkgsrc is also not NetBSD specific, and I have no expectation that an
Illumos or macOS pkgsrc user should need to read netbsd-announce.

> I feel like we're talking about solving things that aren't really
> problems, and that are really "people who are not paying attention and
> not following good sysadmin practices are going to have trouble"
> problems.

I may be having difficulty in expressing my original idea, it was
clear in my mind, but may not have made it to the email.

I believe there is a clear case for providing specific critical
targeted information to users of binary packages. I would expect this
to be used in exceptional circumstances (at least for official NetBSD
packages). Potential use cases include (but are not limited to)

- A critical issue with pkgin or its database which may render it
unable to function unless the user takes manual remedial action
- A package repository no longer supporting their specific minor OS
release (whether this is the case with 9.0 is not relevant, as this
feature is only useful once deployed, so cannot help in this case)
- End of binary package support for an OS in pkgsrc - can provide a
helpful message update and link, and will work if the old packages are
left, or if they are removed and the message just left. Users can know
whether they are up to date, or left with dangerously old packages
- A package repository moving (less likely with official NetBSD repo,
but potentially useful for other pkgin users), can include
instructions to change to the new repo

In short, this could provide an unparalleled  communication channel -
specifically to the people who need important information, at the time
they need it. These are actual real problems and I cannot see a better
(or easier) way to address them.


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