[arch-general] pacman new generation

Magnus Therning magnus at therning.org
Tue Nov 22 06:20:25 EST 2011

On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 12:02, Nicolas Sebrecht <nsebrecht at piing.fr> wrote:
> The 22/11/11, Karol Blazewicz wrote:
>> On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM, Nicolas Sebrecht <nsebrecht at piing.fr> wrote:
>> > OP raised one or two benefits of Haskell over shell scripting. He is
>> > right even if it's somewhat partial: many of high-level languages have
>> > very good advantages over shell scripting. I do think pacman could be
>> > much better if rewritten in one of these languages.
>> Isn't pacman written in C?
> Yep, sorry.
>  s/shell scripting/low-level progrmming languages like C/g
> :-)

I am somewhat allergic to the kind of statements you make.  It sounds
like you are alluding to Haskell (and other hi-level languages,
whatever _that_ means) as some sort of magic pixie dust that can be
taken out in order to spray good-ness on a software project.  There
are dozens of other things to consider.  In this particular case these
are the most pertinent IMNSHO:

- Many of these languages improve the ability to reason about the
behaviour of the program.  This _can_ improve quality. HOWEVER, pacman
doesn't strike as a tool that suffers from bad quality, there seems to
be a development team that fully understand the crucial role that
pacman plays in Arch and they behave accordingly in relation to
rolling out updates.

- Many of these languages allow for quicker development; by raising
the abstraction level it's possible to express more complex ideas in
fewer lines of code and given that the lines/hour written by a
developer is fairly static across languages it leads to quicker
development.  HOWEVER, pacman doesn't suffer from slow development,
there are new releases with new features fairly frequently (probably
as frequently as the community can stand them).

- Finally with each language comes a pool of possible contributors,
the group of people who already know, or are willing to learn the
language.  For C this pool is huge, for most of these hi-level
languages not so.

So my conclusion is that when you say "I do think pacman could much
better if rewritten in one of these languages", then I say that you
most likely are completely wrong.  The more likely effect of rewriting
pacman in one of these languages is that the current development team
would disperse, there wouldn't be as large a pool of programmers to
recruit from to replace them, and in the end pacman would turn out to
be worse.


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