[Mailman-Users] POSTFIX_ALIAS_CMD run once?

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Sat Jan 4 04:11:10 CET 2014

Barry S. Finkel writes:

 > I was using Ubuntu, and my management told me that I had to
 > install a package.

Aside from the fact that it made work for you, did you disagree with
that decision?  I don't (although I don't practice what I preach, I
admit -- but I would if I was maintaining a Mailman installation for
an organization rather than for a personal host, or if I didn't change
distributions frequently enough that learning packaging systems is
more annoying than it's worth).

 > So I spent some time learning how to take the Debian/Ubuntu
 > package, merge the current SourceForge source, and generate a new
 > package.  I have posted on this list that I did this.  Only one
 > person has requested info on what I did.

Which is not surprising.  Few people are working for enlightened
managements like yours.  (Individuals like me are likely to shortcut
that step, you really do need a management, and an enlightened one at
that, in the picture.)

But posting here, although generous (I'm not being sarcastic) of you,
was way insufficient, you see. :-)  What in an ideal :-P world you
would have done was to post that information to the Debian (or Ubuntu)
Mailman packagers, along with reviews of the existing patches, test
cases demonstrating that Mailman DTRTs without the patches you propose
deleting, and documentation (reviewed and revised, or new, as
appropriate) for the patches you propose to continue.  Then followed
up with the discussion.  Yeah, right, like you have the time or
expertise to do that.  And if you think a simple contribution of your
working version of the deb-control files would mostly be ignored, I
think I agree with you.

But you know what?  Barry himself is a Canonical employee (at least,
the last time he mentioned his employment status to me he was), but
his time is considered too valuable to allow him to maintain Ubuntu's
Mailman package!

You could argue that there's something wrong with a world where Barry
isn't *assigned* to package Mailman (or perhaps the responsibility to
make sure somebody does an excellent job of it).  I could rebut but
not with total confidence, and it's way beyond the scope of this

All I really want to do is to firmly nail down the proposition that in
practice you cannot expect distros to be up-to-date in *all* their
packages (and therefore must accept lags in packages important to you
sometimes), and make it plausible that they have sufficient reason to
allow substantial lags for some packages at any given time.

 > The problem I had with the Debian/Ubuntu package, besides the
 > fact that it was not the current version and that help might not
 > be available via this mailing list, was that there were a large
 > number of patches installed by the Debian support group.

I agree, that is a problem.  To the extent that they change Mailman's
behavior (eg, the execrable mailman-to-postfix script) they make our
job harder (yours ;-), mine, and most especially Mark's).

 > Most of those patches were not documented,

Some Debian package maintainers have sucky processes, and some
packages don't actually have maintainers, but some poor sucker who
believes that packages should be kept reasonably up-to-date, and
volunteers to do so for several packages that he or she doesn't know
all that much about.

Fixing this requires more labor.  Ideally, the process is so sucky
that a new process that requires *less* labor to review, *test*,
install, and *document* patches, remove unnecessary patches, and
inject into the distribution process can be designed.  Still, doing
that redesign requires a substantial amount of time invested in
process management, both by the maintainer and by a mentor.  And
sometimes the process is reasonably streamlined for the work it does,
but needs to do more work (eg, adding docs).  This may require the
"eclectic" type of maintainer to abandon some of their other packages.
That's not a happy ending for all!

 > The problem, as I see it, with the Debian method is that when
 > Mark announces a new release of Mailman, the Debian support group
 > has to spend time re-fitting their patches.  The ONLY Debian patch
 > that I kept was one that placed the Mailman libraries in the
 > proper directories for Debian/Ubuntu.

Doesn't surprise me.  But for one example, I suspect the Debian
Mailman package maintainer(s) disagree about the usefulness of the
mailman-to-postfix script.  Most of the regulars here (where "regular"
is defined at least to include you :-) have the inclination and
necessary knowledge to configure their MTAs by hand.  Debian clearly
believes that is *not* true of their "customers", which is why they
installed that script.

Ironically enough, that script was written for the *convenience* of
someone (Bruce Perens?) who was adept at maintaining his Postfix
aliases, and so didn't need the script to be 100.00% robust.  And it
wasn't and it isn't. :-P

All in all, a *very* hard problem.

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