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Old 17th March 2009, 11:01 AM
Ghjnut Offline
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Package Management

I have a general question relating to package managing programs in linux. I'm rather new to linux and have only been religiously using it for around 9 months. Recently, I happened upon an article talking about the benefits of compiling from source (immediate availability of updates, customizability etc.) I am someone who likes having the most recent versions and only installing programs I will have use for. This being said, is it feasible to try to run a personal computer entirely from source packages? I realize there are many dependencies that can be a pain to manage and I'm wondering if the best approach would be to use some sort of package manager for some files while more directly accessed programs with more updates (such as wine or mplayer) would be monitored by myself. Thanks in Advance

-Gnut
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Old 17th March 2009, 11:26 AM
JonathanR Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghjnut View Post
I have a general question relating to package managing programs in linux. I'm rather new to linux and have only been religiously using it for around 9 months. Recently, I happened upon an article talking about the benefits of compiling from source (immediate availability of updates, customizability etc.) I am someone who likes having the most recent versions and only installing programs I will have use for. This being said, is it feasible to try to run a personal computer entirely from source packages? I realize there are many dependencies that can be a pain to manage and I'm wondering if the best approach would be to use some sort of package manager for some files while more directly accessed programs with more updates (such as wine or mplayer) would be monitored by myself. Thanks in Advance

-Gnut
Take a second to think about this. The average Linux install has around 4000 packages (give or take a few). Now imagine going to each packages site and compiling those packages. For what? To stay current? To get, if your lucky, a 10% increase in performance? It would seem you'd be spending all your time going to the various sites, editing make files, and dealing with dependencies. Before you got a tenth of the way through, your packages would be out dated again.

I read the same paper sometime ago, and while he makes some good points, it's totally unrealistic to maintain a system off of source. Even Gentoo uses portage which relies on ebuilds. So these ebuilds have to be packaged to.

What I would recommend is get to know rpm. Rpm has more power and flexibility than you realize. http://docs.fedoraproject.org/drafts/rpm-guide-en/

Also realize that rpm relies on a database. So when you compile from source, this does not get registered by rpm. This can create it's own conflicts. Eventually, it could lead to a borked system.
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Old 17th March 2009, 09:49 PM
Ghjnut Offline
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So is there any situation you would suggest using source code aside from development purposes and lack of rpm support?
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Old 17th March 2009, 11:11 PM
JonathanR Offline
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Originally Posted by Ghjnut View Post
So is there any situation you would suggest using source code aside from development purposes and lack of rpm support?
Sure. To build rpm's. Even if an rpm doesn't exist, or a binary package doesn't exist, building a binary package from source would be best.

Other than the two reasons you posed, there really isn't a benefit. Or the benefit is so small, it becomes inconsequential. OK, having a customized install, and performance gain of maybe 10% compared to all the work you put in. Even in Gentoo, where you customize it all yourself, is pushing it. A lot of work, hours of compiling (KDE can take days depending on your cpu), for what? A few percentage points in performance?

OK, I'm gonna go on a rant here, cause I feel it's appropriate.

I have seen many debates between deb and rpm and source. First, I find it amusing that when they talk about deb, they immediately go to apt, synaptic, that sort of thing. When talking rpm, they talk about yum, yast, urpmi, that sort of thing. In 99% of these debates, neither side understands their own package management (deb/rpm). Occasionaly, you'll get the source proponents, who don't get that slackware and Gentoo are both binary distros. They try and tout the advantages of source, with out counting the cost. Since I have been studying package management for about 4 years now, and used most package managers, it helps in my study/research, I'll tell you, the best thing you can do is get to know your base package manager. If in an rpm distro, get to know rpm. If in a deb distro, get to know dpkg and dselect. If in slackware, get to know pkgtools, and Gentoo, get to know portage.

When you hear someone complaining about rpm, and how apt rules, then you know that that person doesn't have a clue. Or when someone says deb sucks and yum, or smart, or yast rules, you know they don't have a clue. What either side is talking about is the interface to the base level package manager. Something like this. You call on yum, you do your stuff in yum and then yum calls on rpm. You see, yum is the second layer. Now if you throw in packagekit, now you're talking yet another layer. So really, what most are debating is the second layer in package management.

If you have anymore questions, by all means, don't hesitate to ask.
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