[Rpm-metadata] Be careful with the format tag

Jeff Johnson n3npq at nc.rr.com
Thu Oct 16 16:02:39 UTC 2003

Darrin Thompson wrote:

> I believe that one of the purposes of these file formats is to be as 
> extensible as possible. I'm a little worried about the format tag.

Details, please. The tag "format" has little to do with file format or 
any claim therein.

> The assumption that all differences between Debian and RPM based 
> distros are due to the package format is limiting. Of course no one 
> has said that outright but I think that's where we are headed.

There are zillions of differences between Debian and rpm based distros 
above an beyond package format.

I see no assumption in any of these discussions that package format is 
the only difference.

Look, I go to the store to buy food. At the checkout register, I am 
invariably asked
    Paper or plastic?
I choose plastic, others choose paper. Nothing whatsoever is said or 
assumed about
what dog food I (or others) choose to eat.

The difference between *.deb and *.rpm is essentially the same as
    Paper or plastic?
Packaging is merely a container, the choice between paper and plastic is 
where ideology
starts to become involved. No matter what, bags is bags, what you choose 
to put inside,
and whether you recycle or not is entirely left to the dogfood consumer.

> The difference between RPM and .deb goes beyond file formats and into 
> a mode of thinking about how to maintain an installed distribution. 
> Debian is different. It's not because of .deb.

FIle formats are a mode of thinking? Tar vs. cpio? Gzip vs bzip2? Vi vs. 
emacs? *.deb vs *.rpm?

What thought is there? All of the above formats have demonstrable 
utility in known contexts for
significant number of users.

> Both RPM and .deb are extensible. If you really wanted to you might 
> even be able to shoehorn the semantics of .deb into the RPM file 
> format and vice versa. That would have the added benefit of making 
> some people really mad.

Whoa, let's unbait this troll. Shoehorn? Mad?

This is an open discussion about a common representation for what imight 
be rerasonably
contained in packages.

This is not a discussion of unifying semantics between *.deb and *.rpm, 
nor is it a discussion
about package file format. Yes, semantics (and differences) will shape 
the syntax used to
represent common metadata. However, syntax will not change the semantics 

> Also, in a Debian Packages file, each package entry contains three 
> fields not present in the .deb: Size, MD5sum, and Filename.

> Those fields have less to do with the .deb file format and more to do 
> with _apt_.
> The point is that we should be careful about making assertions about 
> why fields are different between Debian and RPM based distros.

XML syntax makes no such assertion. Discussing semantic differences and 
similarities helps to shape the syntax.

73 de Jeff

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