Re: Pere

Fellow Debian Developer Petter Reinholdsen, who is also on Planet Debian, recently blogged about two things that I just have to respond to. I'd post a comment on his blog, but unfortunately his blog does not support comments (booh!).

In his first blog post, titled "What is missing in the Debian desktop, or why my parents use Kubuntu", he complains about the lack of a "simple GUI based upgrade of packages". That already exists and is in Debian; if you install the default GNOME desktop, you'll get an icon in the ( system tray (so it's not a gnome applet) that will tell you when there're updates available. It uses a system tray thingy, so it's not gnome-specific, and you can still use it if you use KDE instead of gnome—though I should add that it's something my parents keep ignoring, even after I've told them. Oh well.

The same blog post contains two more items that I don't disagree with, and is then followed with a complain about "Better browser handling of some MIME types". This is actually a bug in Firefox upstream, not Debian; ubuntu may have patched their Firefox, but feature requests to fix this issue have been posted in the Firefox Bugzilla. Meanwhile, a workaround exists.

His second blog post is about the boot process. Petter is involved with the sysvinit system, and has some valid points in that some scripts in rcS.d really don't belong there. Petter wants to move many scripts, including those setting up the network, out of rcS.d.

I don't think that's a very good idea. Currently, a system admin has four options: boot to a 'normal' login prompt (just boot, don't modify the kernel command line); boot to a single-user system (by adding 'single' to the kernel command line; this runs rcS and rc1 scripts); boot to a very minimally set up system (by adding 'emergency'; this just mounts the root filesystem, does some very minor setup (like doing the keyboard mapping) and allows the user to get a root shell); or just boot to a shell, period (by adding 'init=/bin/bash').

While it makes obvious sense that rcS.d shouldn't contain too much stuff (otherwise you might as well not bother with having it at all), I'm not sure that moving the mounting of 'network-based filesystems mounted by default at bootup time' away from rcS.d is a good idea. Sometimes things go horribly wrong after the networked filesystems are mounted, because some things are misconfigured on those networked file systems. We currently have two states that bring the system up to 'networked filesystems mounted, system not fully booted', and two that bring the system up to 'root filesystem mounted, you figure it out from there'. That seems well divided, and I don't think changing that is a good idea.