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Re: adding stuff to the base installation to make user experience better

On 06.07.2017 17:23, Christos Zoulas wrote:
> Hello,
> Yesterday I installed netbsd-8 on an ancient dell latitude x1. For the
> most part the installation went fine, and I booted to a working system,
> with both X and networking working. NetBSD runs very nicely on it and
> it is quite fast :-)
> Alas, because of network policy on the wifi network, I needed to enter
> a code to access the network, and for that I needed a browser. We don't
> ship a browser in base.
>>From the looks of it, a text browser would suffice (and it did), so
> I decided to go with "links" as opposed to "lynx" for no particular
> reason.
> So I connected the laptop to my phone, and downloaded the 7.0 "links"
> package, since we don't have 8.0 packages yet. I used pkg_add,
> tried to run it and got missing shared libraries. After making a
> bunch of symlinks in /usr/lib to account for newer versions of shared
> libraries, I found it needed some other packages because of other
> dependencies. I downloaded and installed those, and I got it running.
> Using the text browser, I connected to the network and then using
> pkgin, I could install a bunch of packages that made my laptop usable.
> There are 3 things that would make my life easier yesterday:
> 1. A text browser in base. "lynx" or "links" come to mind, I don't
>    mind which, both are GPL2.
> 2. Pre-built packages for NetBSD-8.
> 3. pkgin in base. Yes, it uses a separate database so store package info,
>    but "pkgin update" syncs it with reality. Yes, it does not know which
>    package directory to use (is available) for a particular NetBSD version,
>    but that can be fixed. It surely beats running pkg-add "n" times to
>    install firefox. Yes, it takes a single pkg_add to add it...
> Waiting for the perfect solution to come just makes us less popular to
> users. Implementing an imperfect solution and replacing it with something
> better can't be that bad.
> christos

When I was working on desktop packages, I had to develop base and pkgsrc
concurrently, it was ungrateful experience. It's not like building lynx
on newer libc, but like hours of building Qt and WebKit stuff for
enhanced libc with a new function.

My needs would would be satisfied if we could formalize and create a
build cluster with daily pkgsrc packages for the newest stable release
and/or -current. Hopefully for both. **

I don't like putting more stuff into the base distribution, it's already
fat and most people don't need a lot of code inside it (like LDAP or YP).

Adding a browser into the base feels like a poor man workaround to lack
of pkgsrc packages. (for example people usally need $EDITOR other than

I know users who escaped from NetBSD to OpenBSD (at least one of them
orphaned his pkgsrc-wip packages) just because they ship daily fresh
binary prebuilt software packages to test/use. Regular users (and
developers like myself) don't want to rebuild the desktop stuff each day
or each few days, it's wasting hours.

My preferred solution would be to start a day on desktop stuff with:
sysupgrade auto nyftp://...
pkgin update && pkgin full-upgrade

And with 15 minutes be ready to resume the work, without need to wait
10h for each iteration. No wonder why GNOME3 isn't still there...

** If I am aware correctly Joyent people are already there, they ship
rolling release packages for users.

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