Gentoo Fun

Ethan Blanton elb at
Fri Jul 20 13:58:05 EDT 2007

Walter A. Boring IV spake unto us the following wisdom:
> Etan Reisner wrote:
> > You need to point out to them that turning the protocols on by default
> > does not magically make pidgin require extra libraries or fail to build
> > without them. Turning protocols like zephyr, silc, bonjour, and gadu-gadu
> > on simply makes pidgin *check for* the appropriate libraries and *if they
> > are found at configure time* build the protocols correctly, if they are
> > not found pidgin continues building perfectly normally without them and
> > just leaves those protocols off. So if gentoo has the abilty to 'suggest'
> > dependencies the extra libraries should be suggested, if however gentoo
> > does not support suggestions then forcing the extra libraries is not the
> > right answer and it can be left up to people to correctly install the
> > dependencies needed for the 'special' protocols.
> -- the problem with this is that gentoo users expect that when a
> feature is turned on via a USE var when building a package that any
> dependencies will automatically get built prior.  So, as you say
> enabling those protocols for the build only checks, but that's not
> what gentoo users expect from an ebuild.  when I emerge -vp package It
> shows the enabled USE vars for the package and always resolves to
> build dependencies prior to building the package.  It would be a 'bug'
> for an ebuild package to show the enabled protocols and not build the
> dependencies prior and have them enabled. 

I have no idea whether these particular protocols even *have* USE
variables -- we don't get people coming in asking about SILC or
Gadu-Gadu.  What we *do* get is people asking about a common (if
terrible) protocol with no unusual external dependencies, MSN.  The
USE flags currently on the Pidgin package seem to be more or less
completely arbitrary, from upstream's point of view.  (It is perfectly
possible that Bonjour et al. also have USE flags, and we just don't
hear about it.)

The messages on the Gentoo list thread display a disconnect with
reality that I'm not sure how to solve ... they say things like that
they should update the ebuild message (Pidgin has had various ebuild
messages for YEARS, and no one ever reads them) and that upstream
needs to be educated about USE flags and Gentoo packaging policies to
fix the problem (upstream can't fix people's USE flags).  This seems
like a simple case of a bad package, and fortunately it sounds like
they might be fixing it by changing the USE defaults, or whatever is


The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crimes.
		-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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