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Oliver Jones oliver@d...
Tue Apr 26 22:17:22 NZST 2005

> I am puzzled by this debate. Why is package management such an issue? In my 
> preferred distro (Slackware) installation and/or upgrading seems, for the 
> most part, to "just happen". I seem to have remarkably few problems, and 
> "dependency hell" is becoming a distant memory. I use "slackpkg" to upgrade, 
> and it is simply a matter of entering a minimal amount of text, and walking 
> away for some time (I have a 56k dial-in connection).
> It isn't that I am expecting very little from my computers: I run the almost 
> all the usual stuff - Open Office, various graphics packages, 
> email/web-browsing, programming tools, MP3/DVD players plus three packages 
> which have been, in one way or another, quite problematic on other distros 
> from time to time. These packages are: GRASS, R, and LyX. All three work 
> perfectly on my slack-boxes.
> Am I missing something? 

I remember the times before package management.  I used to use Slackware
3.6.  The first Linux I ever used.  After installation from CD (or
floppies) you were on your own.  No nifty tools to upgrade versions or
patch bugs.  You could run the setup tools and install something still
on the CD but that was about it.  When you wanted to install a new
application that didn't come with your distro you had to download the
source and build it yourself.

This ultimately became a nightmare.  Especially if you wanted to
uninstall something that had sprayed itself all over /usr/local and
didn't have a 'uninstall' make build target.  Or if the application
required a different version of a library you had already installed.

Modern package management systems relieve us of the need to build things
from source, and allow us to easily install, upgrade and remove
applications at will.  All the hard source building and compatibility
work has been done for us by people who enjoy (or get paid for) that
sort of thing.

This has greatly reduced the amount of work a system administrator has
to do.

But like everything, package management systems are not perfect and
differ in many ways from each other.  Hence the endless debates
about .deb vs .rpm, apt vs yum, etc.

However if you think about it we should actually just shut up and kiss
the ground package manager authors, and package repository builders walk
on because they truly are a god send.

For example, just today I set Synaptic to download a couple hundred megs
of updates to fedora core 3 (+ additions) from a variety of different
online RPM repositories and didn't even have to think about whether my
configs would be fiddled with, or whether the new library versions would
conflict with currently installed apps or anything.  

Hallelujah brother.

                   Oliver Jones » Roving Code Warrior
   oliver@d... » +64 (21) 41 2238 » 

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