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Old 04-18-2006, 10:51 AM   #1
damg
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Does this kind of distro exist?


Hi everyone, I'm fairly new to GNU/Linux on my desktop, and I've been trying to find the right ditro for me. After trying many different ones, I seem to have "settled" for Kubuntu at work and Fedora Core 5 (with GNOME) at home, just to get a wide range of experience and not get stuck on the first thing that I get used to.

I like to stay fairly bleeding edge without losing too much stability, and when I read about new features in some package, I'm probably a bit more impatient to try it out than most people. =) So here's my gripe with most Linux distros... all the ones I've tried seem to "force" me into only installing approved packages that come from some official repository usually set up by that specific distro. For example, in Kubuntu, if I apt-get the Blender graphics package, the latest version I can get is 2.37 from the repository when I'd like to use some new features that are in the current 2.41 release.

I don't mind downloading a tarball and compiling things on my own. On the contrary, I get enjoyment from the fact that I have control over the programs on my machine and that I can tell the compiler to optimize something to run on my Athlon XP as opposed to the standard 386 CPU.

But my own compiled version of Blender is in some subdirectory under my home directory that I need to navigate to each time I want to run it. It's not an "installed program", it's like an outcast from the rest of the system, just because it didn't come from some official repository. Sure, I could "install" it so that the binaries are placed with all the others (in /usr/local/bin or something) and the conf files with all the others in /etc, but since I didn't do this through some package manager, I have no way to remove or upgrade it all nicely. My OS makes me feel like I would be dirty'ing up my system if I did this. And everywhere I read, all I see is warnings about installing anything that doesn't come directly from some approved repository, or that I'd be left on my own if I did.

What if I don't want to wait for some package maintainer to get some time to create the package for the programs I need? Is there any nice way to handle this? I guess I could try and create my own rpm or deb file based on the latest source code that I've compiled. I've never tried this, is this something that is easy to do? Would this be the best solution?

I can understand for things like the C libraries, Linux kernel, or other system level packages, that I can not always have the latest versions without affecting the whole system. But is there any real reason to be using a graphics program that is 5 versions old, besides that whoever the package maintainer is hasn't had time to create a package for it or whatever? How do you Debian users handle this with packages that are sometimes *years* behind the current versions? Do you just convince yourselves that the newer versions provide nothing of value for you? Sorry I don't mean to sound condescending, I just honestly don't understand it.

So my main question is, is there a distro (short of going the Linux From Scratch route) that will work well this way for me? Or am I just going about this all wrong? Please help... (And sorry about the rant =)
 
Old 04-18-2006, 11:07 AM   #2
Penguin of Wonder
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Have you ever thought of switching to a source based distro. I've only ever used Gentoo, but there are other source based distros out there. Almost all of the distros i've encountered have the same problems you've mentioned. On the up side though generally distros take programs and make sure they are 100% compaitable and stable before they release into thier depositories. So when your using software from the repositiores your pretty much gaurented a safe experience.

Gentoo isn't a "lightweight" distro, but you can make it as light as you want. I use Fluxbox on mine, and as of right now I've only got three programs compiled on it, Firfox, Thunderbird, and... make that two programs. I wouldn't be to worried about installing stuff on your own. Everything in the open source world comes with a "your on your own if you use this and it breaks" licence.

Here's a link to my favorite list of distrobutions on Wikipedia. It has them all listed out by type, and give a short statement on each. After you pick one that sounds interesting they usually give a pretty fare review of its up and downs. Wikipedia Disto List

Last edited by Penguin of Wonder; 04-18-2006 at 11:11 AM.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 11:11 AM   #3
okmyx
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Debian might be the distro your looking for you have the option of installing from the stable, testing and unstable repositories.

Kubuntu is Debain so it might be possible to edit your current apt sources to include the other repositories
 
Old 04-18-2006, 11:14 AM   #4
rickh
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Package managers are a wonderful thing, and it sounds to me like you are capable of building packages that will work with yours. I am only generally familiar with Debian's packaging system, but I imagine others work similarly. Creating a package is not particularly difficult, especially assuming that your distro has tools to streamline the process.

The next step for efficient management of it would be to set up your own local repository for packages you have produced locally. That repo would be part of your regular sources list, and version numbers and other information would be compared before your package manager overwrote one of your own.

For Debian, this whole process is covered in great detail in a recent book, The Debian System by Martin Krafft. I would assume that such documentation is also available for your distro.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 11:48 AM   #5
erdichia
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I agree with damg, users should not have to go through all this to install new programs onto their system. I should be able to double click an rpm, have it install and be done with it. I would be fully integrated with my system and I'd have an icon for the newly installed program in the panel. Computer users have gotten used to not having to fact that they do not need to navigate some folder structure to use a program. They did that back in the Windows 95 era. We've moved on. If you want Linux to be adopted by the mainstream you have to make it usable by people who do not care about computers. Sure some of this stuff is easy for a computer expert to do, thus the only people that will ever use the OS are experts.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 11:59 AM   #6
damg
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Thanks for the quick replies guys!

So it sounds like, one way or another, I want to be going through a package manager, right? So I should never run a "./configure && make && make install" for a program since that will basically bypass my package manager and I will end up with a "dirty" system, correct?

So if I stick with Kubuntu for example, and I want the latest version of program X, I would need to learn how to create my own deb package and then install it via dpkg or apt? By the way what is the difference between these two? Is apt basically a frontend for dpkg? In that case, it really doesn't matter which one I use to install something, right?

The source-based distros do sound appealing, and I think I will give gentoo a shot. But after a quick review, it seems like gentoo has the same problems as the other distros, mainly that, if some package is not important enough or not deemed stable enough, or the version you want is not in portage, then you're out of luck right? Also how does it work, do I basically tell it what version I want and it grabs that version and compiles it? For example, I notice that Blender 2.41 is still in testing in portage, can I just say grab that specific version even though gentoo doesn't consider it the latest stable version?

Thanks for the help
 
Old 04-18-2006, 12:04 PM   #7
oneandoneis2
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Slackware and the "checkinstall" command is probably the closest thing you'll get without having to put quite a bit of time in...
 
Old 04-18-2006, 12:09 PM   #8
Penguin of Wonder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erdichia
I agree with damg, users should not have to go through all this to install new programs onto their system. I should be able to double click an rpm, have it install and be done with it. I would be fully integrated with my system and I'd have an icon for the newly installed program in the panel. Computer users have gotten used to not having to fact that they do not need to navigate some folder structure to use a program. They did that back in the Windows 95 era. We've moved on. If you want Linux to be adopted by the mainstream you have to make it usable by people who do not care about computers. Sure some of this stuff is easy for a computer expert to do, thus the only people that will ever use the OS are experts.
Sounds nice, but its not always so simple. I like being able to see what goes into my computer when I install programs. I like to be able to check source code if I feel the need. With modern repositories on distros like Fedroa and Ubuntu you have almost exactly what you want. Finally who said I wanted Linux to be adopted by the mainstream anyway? Just Windows isn't for alot of the people here in this forum, who's to say that Linux is for everybody else?
 
Old 04-18-2006, 12:17 PM   #9
Penguin of Wonder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damg
So it sounds like, one way or another, I want to be going through a package manager, right? So I should never run a "./configure && make && make install" for a program since that will basically bypass my package manager and I will end up with a "dirty" system, correct?
I wouldn't call it a dirty system. Before you compile and install the latest version of a program, say Firefox, check the documentation for a system. For example installing Firefox 1.5 on Ubuntu might mess up apt, so you have to be carefull and follow certain steps when you install. This seems to be a rareity though in my experience. It can be better for your system to compile and install yourself actually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by damg
So if I stick with Kubuntu for example, and I want the latest version of program X, I would need to learn how to create my own deb package and then install it via dpkg or apt? By the way what is the difference between these two? Is apt basically a frontend for dpkg? In that case, it really doesn't matter which one I use to install something, right?
No, you don't have to create your own deb or rpm to have the latest and greatest version of programs. Just download the tarball, compile, and install it yourself. Yes, dpkg is just a GUI based front end for apt-get. Most package managers have a similar type program. No it dosen't matter which one you use, people prefer both for various reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by damg
But after a quick review, it seems like gentoo has the same problems as the other distros, mainly that, if some package is not important enough or not deemed stable enough, or the version you want is not in portage, then you're out of luck right? Also how does it work, do I basically tell it what version I want and it grabs that version and compiles it? For example, I notice that Blender 2.41 is still in testing in portage, can I just say grab that specific version even though gentoo doesn't consider it the latest stable version?
Portage acts pretty much like any other package manager on the outside, you choose to install stable or what Gentoo considers "unstable" packages. You've got to remember "unstable" isn't always a good adj. to use here. All that means is that Gentoo hasn't fully tested it. The program might be perfectly stable on your system, but on the other hand it may not be. The "stable" section is for those who like to play it safe and not worry about it. So yes, you can pick and choose which verion you install through Portage.

Last edited by Penguin of Wonder; 04-18-2006 at 12:18 PM.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 12:21 PM   #10
rickh
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Quote:
dpkg is just a GUI based front end for apt-get
That's wrong, but for purposes of this thread, it's probably not important.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 12:25 PM   #11
Penguin of Wonder
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Thank you rickh for correcting me. I can't always be right. Anyway, here is the Wikipedia article dpkg if anyone wants to know more.
 
Old 04-18-2006, 02:34 PM   #12
damg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penguin of Wonder
No, you don't have to create your own deb or rpm to have the latest and greatest version of programs. Just download the tarball, compile, and install it yourself.
But if I do this, how would I go about removing or upgrading the software? Isn't that the reason you don't want to bypass the package manager? Since it's job is to handle that kind of thing...
 
Old 04-18-2006, 03:16 PM   #13
Padma
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Removing and/or upgrading is done manually, just like the install. You're right, the package manager's job is to handle all that. But if you bypass it for the installation ...

There is nothing inherently wrong with bypassing the package manager. But people who don't understand Linux (e.g. newbies) can easily shoot themselves in the foot if they do so. Besides, for *most* people, the version in the repositories is good enough. If you really want bleeding edge stuff, you have to be willing to do a little extra work to use it.
 
Old 04-20-2006, 05:19 PM   #14
damg
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Actually, I may just have found what I was looking for: autopackage (http://autopackage.org/). I haven't tried it yet, but it seems like it makes packaging and installing software much easier, and it isn't tied to any single distro.

It always seemed silly to me that I needed to add random repositories so my package manager can install packages that the "official" repositories don't provide. Why not just download the latest package from the developer and let me install it myself when the latest version comes out?

Otherwise, my only options are to wait for my distro to package it, test it, and release it; or download the source code and compile it myself, but bypassing the package manager and all of its advantages (easy remove/upgrade).

Sounds like autopackage provides the best of both worlds... does anyone have any experience with it?
 
Old 08-28-2006, 08:37 AM   #15
nitin_magics
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Rickh!!! do u know....

Do u know any tools that can create a debain package from windows OS please send me the link if u know!!!
 
  


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