[opam-devel] current opam-repository policy : who can modify a package description

Fabrice Le Fessant fabrice.le_fessant at ocamlpro.com
Mon Feb 22 14:48:42 GMT 2016

On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 3:28 PM Gabriel Scherer <gabriel.scherer at gmail.com>

> There are several different kinds of changes to a package, and it
> makes sense to let different people handle them.

Indeed, I think repo maintainers can have to make some changes, but these
should be the exception, not the rule. Anyway, it's good to explicit them.

> (1) Changes in global packaging policies that are orthogonal to any
> particular packages. When I changed around 3000 packages to add an
> "ocamlbuild" dependency,

Of course, such automatic changes can only be done that way. Maybe,
however, it would have been possible to avoid it. For example, OCaml
without ocamlbuild could be proposed as a package only available above some
OPAM version (1.2.2 ?), and that version would automatically add an
ocamlbuild dependency to every package, except if it has an "ocamlbuild:
false" header (or something like that). I am not saying it is the best
solution, but changing 4000 packages seem even worse for me. I presume
that, most of the time, it is possible to fix such problems in opam rather
than in opam-repository.

> (2) Changes in external configurations that affect some systems that
> the maintainer is not particularly familiar with.

Here, I have to disagree. First, it is always good to discuss such changes,
just for developers to learn about platforms' specificities that they were
not aware of. If you don't do that, you will fix a version, and the next
version will be broken again. Second, you are mixing "repo maintainers" and
"package maintainers". Maybe developers don't have to know about specific
platforms (although they are probably using some platform specific thing
otherwise no change would be needed), about here, we are discussing about
what package maintainers are supposed to know, or to learn. Package
maintainers, as in Debian, are not the authors, they are the people who
decide to take responsibility for making a package public on OPAM. On the
contrary, repo maintainers are only in charge of maintaining the global
consistency of the repository, deciding when there is a conflict between
package maintainers, and so on. The whole point of this discussion is to
prevent repo maintainers from acting as package maintainers, so this
distinction is important !

> I think that empowering Nix users to make the necessary
> opam-repository change to have good support for OCaml inside Nix(OS)
> is the right thing to do, instead of requiring the contributor to send
> dozens of emails to people they don't know, which can be enough of a
> requirement to discourage them from any further contribution.

Except that their contributions will be gone at the next version of the
package, and they will continue to have broken support...

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