Bug#994275: Reverting breaking changes in debianutils

Wookey wookey at wookware.org
Tue Oct 26 13:53:29 BST 2021

On 2021-10-24 19:08 +0000, Clint Adams wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 17, 2021 at 02:33:44PM +0100, Wookey wrote:
> > I think causing build failures is enough reason to say this. I don't
> > suppose that mine is the only one. Yes those builds are buggy and
> > should not do this, and we should make efforts to find out why bazel
> > (or possibly the build scripts it is operating on) is/are so crappy,
> > but for now I agree that reverting this is the right thing to do.
> > 
> > We have time to do this transition properly and quietly in the
> > background, without causing random breakage. A message about a binary
> > moving from one package to another does not need to be printed on
> > every usage of that binary. Indeed it is actively unhelpful to do so.
> Boyuan packaged GNU which and uploaded it to NEW in August.  It is now
> October, and neither GNU which nor *BSD which nor any other which
> alternative is in unstable.  Presumably one of these could have put
> a band-aid on your bazel problem, though of course any version of
> `which` might output things to stderr for a variety of reasons.

That package is the band-aid I am currently using, but (because it has
indeed not progressed through NEW yet, which is presumably down to
ftpmaster bandwidth) it's a hassle where I have to make sure it is
made available in the build environment each time.

> Lots of things broke between buster and bullseye.

Most of them broke by accident or for good reasons. You broke this
semi-deliberately, by deciding not to manage a quiet background
transition of the which binary to some other package, but to print
a deprecation message and let other people deal with the fallout. OK,
maybe you expected the change to be harmless, but you didn't revert it
once it became clear that this was not a good way to do the

IIUC the tech committee have now told you to do it properly, as a
managed transition. Good.

> Is the difference that these packages aren't Essential?

The difference from where I am standing is the attitude of the
maintainer to doing things properly vs causing other people
hassle. Nobody is making you remove/move which. If you want to
move/remove which then do it in a way that doesn't break other
people's stuff (as much as possible). In this case that really isn't
hard to do (just wait until GNU which passes NEW, and preferably file
bugs on packages that now need to depend on it).

I didn't understand why you wanted to make this change in the first
place, and I don't understand why you didn't just revert the message
when it became clear that it was a problem, and I don't understand why
you are still trying to justify your somewhat bloody-minded approach
to this (should-have-been) minor issue, even after the tech comittee
have agreed that it was not a good approach.

Please, just remove the deprecation message, until GNU which is in
unstable (like you should have done a couple of months ago, when first
asked), then work out how the transition should go such that no-one
using which will actually notice or care. Then you can throw away the
hated binary :-) and we can all be happy.

I understand that it's galling to have the TC tell you to take a
different approach, especially when you've doubled-down on your
approach, but I'm afraid the TC is correct here, so please, stop
arguing, do what's best for the project, and soon enough this will all
be over, and we'll all have what we want. And you may (or may not)
choose to reflect on the the point that we _could_ have got to exactly
the same point without this argument if you'd made different choices.

From my personal point of view this is solved short-term the moment
the deprecation message is gone in unstable, and long term as soon as
GNU which enters unstable.

I hope this is my last-ever word on this tiresome subject.

Principal hats:  Linaro, Debian, Wookware, ARM
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