Bug#682347: mark 'editor' virtual package name as obsolete

Russ Allbery rra at debian.org
Thu Aug 24 06:03:23 UTC 2017

Control: tags -1 patch

(Adding the maintainers of the affected packages via Bcc.)

Artem Leshchev <wolf at gwerewolf.ru> writes:

> Package: debian-policy
> Severity: wishlist

> Virtual package name 'editor' was removed from Authoritative List of
> Virtual Package Names in 1996 year, but it is used at our days. Maybe we
> need to add it to section "Old and obsolete virtual package names",
> which is empty? If yes, we need to file a bug against each package that
> uses it, so this name will be removed from repository. If no, maybe we
> need to add it again in the List?

Would anyone on the Policy list or any of the maintainers bcc'd want to
make a case for keeping the virtual package "editor"?

In previous discussions, no one seemed to feel that it was helpful as a
virtual package.  Virtual packages are only useful for another package to
depend on (or recommend or suggest), or for someone to manually use as in
"apt-get install editor", neither of which seem like useful actions here.
(Or to conflict with, but that's obviously wrong here.)  No packages
currently declare any type of dependency on editor.

While an argument could be made that the highest priority of any editor is
in Debian is important (so far as I can see) and therefore a package that
requires (any) editor could want to declare a dependency, we've not done
this in Debian for many years and we seem to have never noticed the lack.
A local administrator can always set EDITOR or VISUAL, and an interactive
editor is a very unlikely critical dependency for the sort of package that
needs to operate on a minimal system.

Note that this doesn't change the editor *alternative*, which is
documented in Policy and will continue to work as it does now.

If there are no objections, I propose the following patch, which I believe
documents the current practice in Debian.  This patch also makes explicit
that packages that rely on sensible-editor or sensible-pager *do* need to
declare a dependency on sensible-utils (which should be common sense, but
which seemed worth calling out anyway).

diff --git a/policy/ch-customized-programs.rst b/policy/ch-customized-programs.rst
index 90ecf6d..9c17c1a 100644
--- a/policy/ch-customized-programs.rst
+++ b/policy/ch-customized-programs.rst
@@ -93,19 +93,21 @@ page.
 If it is very hard to adapt a program to make use of the EDITOR or PAGER
 variables, that program may be configured to use
-``/usr/bin/sensible-editor`` and ``/usr/bin/sensible-pager`` as the
-editor or pager program respectively. These are two scripts provided in
-the sensible-utils package that check the EDITOR and PAGER variables and
+``/usr/bin/sensible-editor`` and ``/usr/bin/sensible-pager`` as the editor
+or pager program respectively. These are two scripts provided in the
+``sensible-utils`` package that check the EDITOR and PAGER variables and
 launch the appropriate program, and fall back to ``/usr/bin/editor`` and
-``/usr/bin/pager`` if the variable is not set.
+``/usr/bin/pager`` if the variable is not set. Packages using these
+scripts should declare an appropriate dependency on ``sensible-utils``.
 A program may also use the VISUAL environment variable to determine the
 user's choice of editor. If it exists, it should take precedence over
 EDITOR. This is in fact what ``/usr/bin/sensible-editor`` does.
-It is not required for a package to depend on ``editor`` and ``pager``,
-nor is it required for a package to provide such virtual
-packages. [#]_
+Packages may assume that ``/usr/bin/editor`` and ``/usr/bin/pager`` are
+available as fallbacks without adding an explicit package dependency, and
+may fail if they are not present.  There are no ``editor`` or ``pager``
+virtual packages.
 .. _s-web-appl:
@@ -572,10 +574,6 @@ installed in ``/usr/share/man/man6``.
    portion is handled internally by the package system based on the os
    and cpu.
-.. [#]
-   The Debian base system already provides an editor and a pager
-   program.
 .. [#]
    If it is not possible to establish both locks, the system shouldn't
    wait for the second lock to be established, but remove the first
diff --git a/virtual-package-names-list.txt b/virtual-package-names-list.txt
index 4f82f88..73bbf01 100644
--- a/virtual-package-names-list.txt
+++ b/virtual-package-names-list.txt
@@ -208,10 +208,12 @@ Games and Game-related
 Old and obsolete virtual package names
-Note, that no other package then the ones listed here should use
-these virtual package names.
+Packages should no longer reference these virtual package names.
-[There are currently no such package names in use]
+ editor                  indicated any package providing the editor
+                         alternative, removed in November 1996 because
+                         this was not useful for dependencies and was
+                         never used except in Provides
@@ -363,3 +365,6 @@ Russ Allbery:
   08 Jan 2017 Added adventure
+Russ Allbery:
+  08 Aug 2017 Added editor to the obsolete list

Russ Allbery (rra at debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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