Bug#784268: vim-tiny should provide vim alternative

Lennart Sorensen lsorense at csclub.uwaterloo.ca
Mon May 4 19:41:38 UTC 2015

On Mon, May 04, 2015 at 03:18:09PM -0400, James McCoy wrote:
> This isn't going to change.  I've explained the reasoning fairly
> thoroughly in #681012 (which I'm merging this into).

I just read that, and I don't agree with the explanation.  It has lots
of vim features that work great, even if some of the more obscure ones
do not.  I am sure someone could find features that exist in the vim-nox
that are obviously not in vim, and who says those missing vim features
are not expected by some people?

> Then setup an alias or ~/bin/vim instead.  vim-tiny has an explicit
> purpose and that's not going to change.

Perhaps that explicit purpose ought to be in the package description then.
The current description rather matches what it actually provides, which
is a minimal nice to use vim that is much more than just vi.
The description does not give any indication that vim-tiny does NOT
provide vim.  It says it provides a pretty minimal version of vim.

Having to go hack up the system rather than just install packags to get
sane behaviour is rather inconvinient.  And if something expects /usr/vim
to work, it won't and I don't want to go creating a file there that
could later conflict with teh alternatives system.

> In the various support channels I'm a part of, I've seen far less
> confusion about vim-tiny providing vi than the other way around.

Well running vim.tiny gives different (and better) behaviour than running
it with the vi symlink.

I think you should write a better package description instead warning
people what they are in fact getting and put back the vim link.  Most
people won't install vim-tiny, but at least those that have a reason to
will get something that works.

My only other option is to manually maintain patches to the package and
keep rebuilding it every update.  That would be a pain in the ass but
I guess I may not have a choice if the package isn't going to do the
right thing.

Clearly this isn't the first time this request is being made.  I think
this indicates the current state is wrong.

Is the problem really that vim-tiny comes on all debian systems until
someone installs a bigger version of vim explicitly and that having vim
work before you install vim could confuse people?

I think the problem is that there are in fact people that would like vim
without the disk space cost of vim-runtime, and vim-tiny seems like
it should provide that service (especially given the package description),
but due to the lack of the vim link it doesn't.  In every other way
it would be perfect for the job.  There must be some way that could
be resolved without causing confusion on fresh installs and without
requiring people to do hack jobs to their systems.  How about a vim-small
package that simply depends on vim-tiny but provides the alternatives
hook to add vim.  People would have to explicitly ask for it and the
description could explain what the limitations are.  At least then people
that want it could have vim-tiny actually work as vim which is is clearly
quite capable of doing, but the default install would not have vim until
you explicitly install one.

I guess I better go patching and building then.

Len Sorensen

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