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Monday, October 16, 2006

Why are requests for automatic tools happen so often?

Well, not that this strikes me big time or something, but why do people need automatic tools?

Ok, I do understand much cases where such tools give great advantage. Building a project with automatic tools is probably the only way to ensure that it will be build correctly. Periodically updating you Portage tree is also understood.

But why there's a need for something esoteric? Why would people need such things?

Well, first of all, we all lazy. We do not want to do things we don't have to. But one shouldn't forget, that things which get done automatically are often forgotten either why we did them or how.

When package fails to build, well, it will be great if Portage would point me to right direction for a solution. But I really wouldn't need it to solve it, especially not automatically. Because there are potential problems with such automatic fixing:

  1. If Portage accidentally fixes something "wrong"? What happens then? Will I know about it? Will I know how to fix it? Will it tell me about it?
  2. If autofix feature has a problem, it starts fixing something, and then something goes wrong, and it breaks Portage, rendering my system non-operational?
  3. What if something buggy in this autofix causes my data get erased?
  4. What if fixing procedure requires user input when such is not feasible? As in headless servers with automatic maintenance procedures?
Yes, some of those points have been made on that forum, but I just wanted to grab them all together.

Besides, if there's a problem with an ebuild, which may happen in some configurations, an ebuild should be fixed by maintainer, not automatically directly on users' system. There is a process for fixing things in Gentoo, and its there for a reason.

Being IT manager for devel team in the past for a long time, I came to conclusion, that Bugzilla is a great tool and it deserves its fame. Noone should be afraid to perform a search on Bugzilla.

On the other hand, I had many problems, that solutions for them I found on forums/IRC way before I saw it in Bugzilla. So what now, set bots to IRC channels that will catch users problems automatically and insert them into Bugzilla? Create scripts in forums for same? Thats dumb and is definitely not feasible.

I believe, that there's a place for automatic tools, but people should understand that some things will still require manual intervention. There's no running away from it.

Oh, and by the way, "manual" is what I like in Gentoo. But, I guess, each one for its own.

You may comment, and you may not comment. As everything in Gentoo, its your choice.

P.S. Comments would be appreciated.

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