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Re: [Nmh-workers] nmh on openbsd...

From: Lyndon Nerenberg
Subject: Re: [Nmh-workers] nmh on openbsd...
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2014 16:50:36 -0700

On Apr 17, 2014, at 7:56 PM, William Yodlowsky <address@hidden> wrote:

> After the failed discussion here on nmh-workers about utmp support, in
> which we attempted to resurrect it with this tiny patch:
> http://lists.nongnu.org/archive/html/nmh-workers/2013-01/msg00018.html
> ...we had to add that patch to our ports tree to keep rcvtty working
> on OpenBSD.  OK fine.

We (the core nmh developers) really want to keep the code base as strictly 
aligned to POSIX as we can.  (Within reason.)  We made a deliberate effort to 
remove as much of the OS-specific code as we could.  The goal is to have the 
nmh code be as portable as we can make it.  I.e. we want the distribution to 
build "out of the box" on anything that implements core POSIX (well, SUSv2 I 
guess).  That means using a conservative set of APIs, even within the 
'mandatory' POSIX/SUSv2 set.

When it comes to entities building packages for their own distributions, most 
will want to customize the build in some way.  E.g. pretty much everyone 
changes the default paths to something that matches their distribution's 
filesystem layout.  But others like to fiddle with the code to take advantage 
of OS-specific APIs.  This is not uncommon in all the BSDs, and their ports 
build systems provides hooks to make this easy (the files/ sub-directory on 
FreeBSD, e.g.).

So, in this case, you should be taking advantage of your own ports environment 
to customize the build in a way that delivers a set of binaries that matches 
your user's expectations.  And you are – by far – in a better position to make 
those sorts of decisions for your user base than we could ever be.

But stepping back for a minute, look where this goes.  We customize for Open.  
Now the Free folks say "Hey! Wait a minute?! Incorporate our customizations, 
too!"  Then along come the several dozen Linux distributions ...   Oh, don't 
forget all the Solaris derivatives.  This just puts us back to where we were 10 
years ago.

I understand why you would like the patch applied.  I am a build engineer in my 
$DAYJOB, and in a previous life had the unenviable task of writing the glue to 
generate native packages for over a dozen UNIX variants (not Linux 
distributions – I'm talking native packages for AIX, HP/UX, Solaris, BSD/OS, 
Irix, Linux RPMs, whatever Digital was calling their UNIX in the late 90s, and 
a couple of others I now forget).  So I feel your pain.

However: it is *your* pain.  As the port maintainer, it is *your* job to do 
those customizations, to turn the generic code into something that *your* user 
base will love you for :-)

The code in rcvtty is unlikely to change in any non-trivial manner in the next 
... decade?  This is a 'set once and forget' operation.  And I would be happy 
to put a notice into the source code at the utmpx bits to warn future 
developers that some folks still customize their builds to use utmp, therefore 
please don't frotz the code without very good reason.


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