To lead the distribution pack(age)

Posted 16 Jul 2001 at 12:19 UTC by jono Share This

Whiel many companies and organisations straddle to become distribution channel leaders, it seems many fall at the first hurdle - system upgrading and package management. Can a combination of free and open package formats and commercialism work together?

Since I got into Linux when I started with Slackware, I went on to Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE and more. Where am I now? Debian. Why? Because it simply leads the pack in terms of system upgrading. The downside of Debian is the pretty frontends and ease of installation of something such as Mandrake.

It seems that Mandrake for example have created a very easy to use distribution that is easy to install and administer, but there is one coherent problem - it uses RPM. RPM is fated for having dependency problems and is therefore flawed in terms of ease of upgrading your system and resolving dependencies.

What we essentially need to do is to persuade the distros to rebuild their distros using Debian packages, but use the Mandrake frontend and installation scripts. Think about it - there is a whole archive of commenly updated and well packaged packages that are there for anyone to use. If a distro takes this system and puts GUI frontends in front of the user there is more power for the user and an easier system to upgrade. It also creates a standardised sytem archetecture (Debian).

I am no Debian developer, but this just seems to make sense to me.

Oops., posted 16 Jul 2001 at 12:22 UTC by jono » (Master)

Sorry for some of the spelling errors. It seems I pasted the version before I spellchecked it.

/me sneaks off and hides behind a chair.

RPM is not a problem., posted 16 Jul 2001 at 12:46 UTC by xcyber » (Journeyer)

It seems that Mandrake for example have created a very easy to use distribution that is easy to install and administer, but there is one coherent problem - it uses RPM. RPM is fated for having dependency problems and is therefore flawed in terms of ease of upgrading your system and resolving dependencies.

Thank you for the plug for debian!

But your statement on rpm does not stand. I am a debian/progeny user for about 2 years.As you may hear of connectiva,they employ apt as the mgmt tool to manage rpm.You can

apt-get update&&apt-get -u -y dist-upgrade
to update the whole system.

Beside Connectiva,do you know CLE?

CLE stands for Chinese Linux Extension.CLE 1.0 is basically a Redhat 7.0 version plus localization of GNOME/KDE/Terminal in Traditional Chinese.Acutally,the CLE team can choose to roll out individual localized packages of the aforementioned rpm packages at their FTP site.But they chose to use the debian-like apt delivery system to let users upgrade their system.And now i can apt-get upgrade into RH 7.1 to my desktop.

Don't get me wrong,i am a die-hard debian advocates,but i really need some complete,stable Traditional Chinese support for my desktop.So i chose CLE.

So by adding the ease of apt to rpm based distro,i don't see the need of elimilating rpm in the foreseeable future.

As LSB 1.0 suggests rpm as the preferred packages for linux,i think we should not deny the fact that rpm is popular among distros and users.Why not introducing apt to them and unite the linux world?

I strongly support LSB as it can provide a chance to ease the load of packaging of ISV(e.g. The Kompany,Ximian) and distributors. RPM formatit not technically inferior ,in terms of dependency management.The inferior part is its management tool.

The format is not the issue, posted 16 Jul 2001 at 12:50 UTC by jono » (Master)

The package format is not the problem here. RPM is a perfectly viable package format, but it is how it is packaged. Many RPM's do not have proper dependency details in them. Debian has policy and rules to stick to ensuring package integrity. I have used for example the Mandrake tool for installing an RPM and it should solve dependencies but it simply doesnt work for me.

It seems as though there are a bunch of well packages debs out there that just need a frontend.

NeXT/OSX file bundles, posted 16 Jul 2001 at 13:45 UTC by Ilan » (Master)

( I'll probably get bumped down to observer for saying this. Carpe Diem)

I really like the NeXT/MacOSX concept of file bundles. I think that putting everything that constitutes an application into its own folder (and representing that directory as an executable icon) is a lot cleaner and more robust than spreading everything out across the system and relying on a centralized binary database not to go teets up. Just my two cents.

Dependency problems, posted 16 Jul 2001 at 14:04 UTC by AlanShutko » (Journeyer)

To elaborate a bit on this: RPMs do not inherently cause dependency problems. They have enough information in them to avoid that problem.

Difficulties arise when you start combining RPMs from different sources, because different sources have different naming conventions and packaging policies. So the libc5 package from RH happens to have X libraries compiled against libc5, the one from contrib doesn't, and the one from SuSE is named something else entirely.

This is not just a problem with RPM-based distributions, just more apparent because there are more RPM-based distros and when most people thing .deb, they think of packages from Debian (which have nice firm policy behind them to make them consistent). But you can already start to see this problem with Debian-based distributions: I have a friend who uses Libranet, has some of Ximian GNOME, and potato in his apt sources. It's messed up enough that we couldn't get apt to install any gnome dev packages (ie, headers and static libraries) because the dependencies from different distributions conflicted.

apt-get + rpm + pretty front-end, posted 16 Jul 2001 at 23:58 UTC by riel » (Master)

No problem combining these three into one distribution.

The RPM format doesn't have any more dependency problems than the .deb format. The problem is that most RPM distributions don't have an apt-get watching over their shoulder and alerting them to every mistake. It is perfectly possible to have an RPM-based distro which works great with apt-get. In fact, I've been running it for about a year now...

A pretty front end isn't much of a problem either, just take a look at Alfredo Kojima's excellent Synaptic. This program doesn't let you wade through dozens of confusing menu layers but allows you to apply filters to search what you need.

Disclaimer: yes, I am working for Conectiva so I might be a bit biased. However, I'm also amazed that the other RPM-based distro's haven't gotten their act together and cleaned up their dependencies far enough to keep apt-get from complaining...

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