How image installs work [was Re: The image question]

Jordan K. Hubbard jkh at
Sat Mar 10 08:42:01 PST 2007

On Mar 10, 2007, at 8:04 AM, Daniel J. Luke wrote:

>> You'd prefer that burden be foisted on the users, eh?  Those who  
>> are perhaps least qualified to diagnose and fix the problem? :-)
> Or who are perhaps most qualified to make intelligent choices of  
> what should be installed and upgraded at which time on their own  
> systems? :)

I wish this were true, but it's not.  Users who are that intelligent  
already don't use macports (or fink) because they don't need their  
hands held to any degree and already know where to find what they're  
looking for and how to port/install it.   If you read through the  
questions people have had on the macports/darwinports mailing lists,  
however, you'll see that we've attracted a somewhat different class of  
user, one which isn't even sure how to add $prefix/bin to their path  
much less "make intelligent choices about what should be installed and  
upgraded".   I'm not denigrating our users, I'm just saying that on  
the number line between "grandma" and "Linus Torvalds", they're more  
towards the left than the right side.  And that's not even a bad  
thing, it's a sign of success that macports has managed to create  
something with centrist appeal, but that also means you can't make the  
assumptions about skill level that you're making.

>> The fact that API/ABI compatibility is frequently broken is an ugly  
>> little secret of our business and somebody, somewhere, always ends  
>> up dealing with it.   For fan-out reasons alone, that someone  
>> should be as far upstream as possible.
> Indeed, it should be handled upstream of macports.

And, while we're wishing, let's also wish that upstream maintainers  
also all made their software work perfectly on MacOSX without the need  
for patches or special build procedures and that they all agreed on a  
reasonable taxonomy and lived in peace and harmony together, then  
macports (and all other ports systems) could just retire themselves  
and end-users could deal directly with the upstream providers.

The fact is, however, that macports has established itself as "one  
stop shopping" which means that this is as far upstream as users  
should need to go, not to mention the fact that getting thousands of  
software authors to change their ways seems markedly less realistic  
than getting a few dozen macports maintainers to change theirs.

- Jordan

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