Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Fink Rocks (even when I disagree with it)

I find it ridiculous that there isn't a Fink package for installing the FinkCommander application. FinkCommander provides an excellent user interface to Fink.

The reasoning from the Fink maintainers is that, as an OS X application, the user will expect to be able to move the application and, as this would confuse Fink when the app is moved, it is not appropriate to package OS X applications in this fashion.

I find this reasoning and the resulting policy to be flawed.

If the app were packaged and installed via Fink, it will be installed with ownership by 'root' and the user cannot move the app without authenticating. Furthermore, the user has no reason to move the app anymore than they have any reason to move, say, Mail.app (see my previous rant on the subject).

OS X is a multiuser system and the user shouldn't be screwing with the filesystem outside of their home account. The system provides all the tools necessary -- aliases and the ability to create folder (real rocket science, that) -- to configure their home account however they bloody well please.

Fink is similar. Fink does not scribble on the system and Fink expects that everything under Fink's control will not be modified by the user directly.

So what's the big deal?

Install FinkCommander into /sw/Applications/ and be done with it. The user can't [easily] move it and shouldn't expect to be able to do so. If they really want FinkCommander.app somewhere special, they can create an alias to the app just like they can create an alias into wherever the heck they please under their home account -- just like all the apps provided by the system.

Being able to use FinkCommander to update itself along with the rest of Fink is a valuable feature. I put together a Fink package description for FinkCommand. It is available via this link.

Simply download the finkcommander-0.3.3-1.info file and copy it into, typically, /sw/fink/dists/local/main/finkinfo.

Once there, 'fink install finkcommander' will cause version 0.3.3 of FinkCommander.app to be installed into /sw/Applications/.

One of these days, I'll get around to putting together a Fink package that will automatically download and install a series of "non-compliant" Fink packages that I have put together to help with the maintenance of my machine.

Finally -- a huge thank you to Christoph, Max, Finlay, and the slew of other developers that have contributed to Fink and who continue to maintain the code and documentation to such a high degree of quality. Fink rocks. It has saved me hours of administrative time and opened access to numerous incredibly useful open source tools that were otherwise hard to obtain/build. It has greatly reduced duplication of effort and ensured a very high quality baseline of tools for the developer or administrator. Kudos to the team!!!

Though I find the policy flawed, it is not my project within which to dictate said policy... I would rather work with a high quality tool that is malleable enough to allow me to "fix" the maintainer's well considered policy than with a tool that tried to please all folks, no matter how hair-brained their opinion.
10:59:43 AM