Hi folks,

I'd like to share some thoughts regarding the new binpkg builders
dilfridge & co have been working on. First of all, that's super
exciting. Congratulations on launching that. I look forward to seeing
~ builds in the future and also the positive effect this can have on
our ecosystem.

But I want to address a *potential* negative impact on our ecosystem.
As this takes off, users will quickly find that sticking with default
USE flags means lightning fast "builds", because they don't have to
build anything; they just get it from the binhost. This in turn
creates some incentive structure for users not to change the default
USE flags, in a sense penalizing customization. Obviously it's not a
real penalty though; nothing has changed with building from source,
and just the default USE flag emerges got a massive speedup. So while
on the surface, the customization negative pressure angle is kind of
concerning, it's not really that bad when you think about it.

But what the speedup of default USE flags will do, however, is
naturally apply a positive pressure on *developers* to enable more USE
flags by default in ebuilds. And this is what concerns me.

I've long considered the default USE flags of packages to be sort of
the "Gentoo wisdom" of a default setting. It's not overly minimal, but
it's most certainly not bloated either, like full on binary distros
that always build the whole kitchen sink. It's kind of always been
this nice middle ground that developers pickup on when they start and
carry through as it's always been, learning what's more of an art than
a science.

What I fear is that this artform will be gradually lost, as users ask
for this or that default USE flag to be changed in this or that
package, and a developer reasonably thinks, "oh sure, not a big deal,
I can always turn it off in my personal builds." And then gradually
all the default USE ebuilds become chunky, and the old art of Gentoo
default USE flags is forgotten.

This isn't the kind of thing that would happen overnight. But it does
seem like there are mechanisms in place which might bring about this
kind of gradual cultural shift. Maybe.

So, this is all to say, everyone, let's keep doing what we've always been doing!


Jason A. Donenfeld

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