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a 4-part deletion test (was Re: tn3270, mset and map3270)

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 06:16:24PM -0500, Steven Bellovin wrote:
> This is the problem: having something in pkgsrc requires a maintainer
> who's going to do what it takes to keep the code running.  The
> proposal to delete tn3270 was advanced not because tn3270 almost
> unused, but because it's almost unused *and* would need significant
> work to keep working with future releases of the system.  In other
> words, is it worth the effort?

Two thoughts:

I don't think that anybody flat out said, "[tn3270 et cetera] will need
significant work to keep working with future releases," which somebody
should have done, because not everyone is going to infer that from the
discussion.  It hadn't occurred to *me* before.

The question "is it worth the effort?" needs some unpacking.  Worth
whose effort?  Mine?  Yours?  Roy's or Marc's or Simon's?  It's a
volunteer project, remember. :-)

I think that before we delete some function from the base system, the
function needs to pass at least this 4-part test:

1) Nobody uses the function, and nobody even wants to.

2) The burden of maintaining the function inhibits the system's
   maintenance in some *extraordinary* way.  Consider prioritizing
   functions in a few broad categories (kernel & userland, for example)
   for deletion.

3) No one offers to maintain the function.

4) The function is not less valuable to its maintainers outside
   of the base system than inside it---e.g., there's not any use
   cross-building it.

Finally, food for thought: if a function that is a candidate for
deletion meets criteria 2 through 4, but not criterion 1, perhaps it
should be deleted?


David Young             OJC Technologies      Urbana, IL * (217) 278-3933

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