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bug#35551: guix search

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: bug#35551: guix search
Date: Fri, 10 May 2019 12:17:30 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.2 (gnu/linux)

Hi Bruno,

Bruno Haible <address@hidden> skribis:

>> I would hope that ‘guix search’ and ‘guix package --list-available’ are
>> easier than anything else, and that people value the idea of doing
>> things locally.  Also, a local search gives the right result while a
>> remote service might give results for a different Guix revision.
>> Is there any specific reason why you were uncomfortable with these
>> commands?  I’m curious how we could improve the user experience here.
> Yes. I was looking for a package that contains the 'ssh' command.
> $ guix search ssh | less
> returns libssh, libssh2, guile2.0-ssh, guile-ssh, sshpass, ...,
> emacs-counsel-tramp.
> The answer I was looking for was 'openssh', but it was hidden
> among 66 packages.

I see.

> A search is good if the relevant results for the user occur
> among the first screen.
> Possible improvements include:
> 1) If the search term is X and installing the package would cause
>    a program named X to appear in $PATH, then list this package first.
>    This rule would have listed 'openssh' first. Also, for 'guix search gcc',
>    it would now make 'gcc-toolchain' appear first (right?).

I agree that this would be great, but we don’t know beforehand what
commands a package provides.  For that we’d need to resort to an
external service providing this info.

> 2) Another heuristic for presenting the "best" hits first:
>    Sort the graph of the packages (using dependencies as graph edges).
>    Then present the "base" packages (the packages which don't depend on
>    other packages) first.
>    This will likely make packages that are bindings (guile-ssh, ruby-net-ssh,
>    etc.) appear after openssh.

This sounds like an interesting option, at least when one is searching
for an application and not for a library.

> 3) If the resulting list is longer than one screenful, present only the
>    names, not names + details. Like
>      $ guix search ssh | grep '^name:'
>    would do.
>    Even without the improvements 1) and 2), the command
>      $ guix search ssh | grep '^name:' | grep ssh | sort
>    produces a one-screenful result that I could have evaluated in 10 seconds.

OK, though you would have been unable to see the descriptions.

Another option I thought of would be to display only the 10 results with
the highest relevance by default, when stdout is a terminal.



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