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Scripting language dependencies

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Greetings,

I hope everyone is having a good day. Here in the Fedora ARM project,
we're having a great time overall, but we've run up against a familiar
foe in our preparation for Fedora 17 and rawhide: superfluous deps in
SPEC files. Today's example is a shell-escaped call to Ruby just to
determine some gcc flags for an unrelated package build, but that's just
today's example. There are many others, so some standard would help.

Why is this a problem? The most obvious issue is the superfluous
dependencies, pulling in ruby (and all of its deps), for example. But
the bigger problem for the distribution as a whole is that we are
becoming less bootstrappable[0] over time, and we are suffering from
dependency creep that makes life difficult for secondary architectures
(or even for the primary architecture if a bunch of rebuilds were to
fail and there were no deps to satisfy a circular path).

Eventually, the issue of dependency creep is going to bite the broader
distribution. In the meantime, can we please impose some kind of rule
surrounding which superfluous build deps are allowed? I'm not advocating
for the removal of Ruby, Lua, and so on and a return to old fashioned
shell, but I am suggesting that we cap where we are and try to avoid
introducing any more bizzare build dependencies in the future. For
example, say a package grew a SPEC file need for a call to an INTERCAL
script just to determine gcc flags? It's not really all that different
from calling Ruby to expand gcc flags and maybe I happen to like using
INTERCAL over Ruby? Or why not have a hardware compiled state machine
implement some custom logic to determine gcc flags? Maybe I find that
easier than writing some good old fashioned shell, etc.

In all seriousness, can we please have some direction? If this is
already implied or codified, could someone remind packagers to refrain
from adding build dependencies like this? I'd recommend that, in
general, if a one line shell escape can be used, that ought to be the
preference over adding a one-line build dep on $random scripting lang.

Thanks!

Jon.

[0] Rebuilding the entire distribution from first principles, using
nothing more than a toolchain to begin the process. We did this for
Fedora 15 on ARMv7. I eventually would like it that Fedora be able to
bootstrap itself on any architecture trivially, and I know Debian (and
other distributions) are similarly keen to return to that world.


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