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Right, so I've got the process of installing .rpm's down (that was easy), and I'm moving on to tarballs. No problems when they have binaries, but I'm lost when it comes to compiling!
To make matters worse, my system doesn't seem to have xmkmf installed (I understand that this the easiest way, along with Imake -- which I also seem to be lacking -- to get these things into working software), and I can't find it at rpmfind.net.
If anyone out there could walk me through the process (or post a link to a web page with a nice walk-through) I would be much obliged.
the main problem with tarballs is that you'll occasionally run across one that doesn't use the typical compiling instructions. in that case, there will probably be the README to explain how. other than that, 90% of tarball installs go like this:
tar -xzvf package.tar.gz
*bunch of stuff scrolls by while it's decompressed and untarred*
...and you're done. generally, you want to compile as a user, and install as root. it's not critical to compile as user instead of root, but it's just generally not a good security idea to compile anything as root.
What's the error message? The configure script for everything checks to make sure you have the necessary components in order to compile something from source. Mandrake and RedHat have now jumped the chasm of really being a pain in the arse as a default installation no longer includes a compiler! If the error had something to do with gcc, you'll have to RPM those onto you box. There should be just the one, but Mandy in its infinite obnoxiousness, has probably left out a few things, so its probably a matter of RPM, trying configure, finding what you need next, repeat.
I've never been able to figure out why the hell most distros don't make a compiled (at least gcc for christsakes) part of the default install. I realize that Red Hat would love to standardize everything into neat RPMs... but jeez. When I first started using Linux (RH 6.0) this was one of the worst problems I encountered since handling RPMs was a little more complicated then.
The two major culprits, Mandrake and RedHat, and I think SuSe, but my experience with them is limited, have one cool feature in the install:
Both of them come with a section in their configuration that regardless of install will ask you what services you want by default, which is of course going to be what resources you have being sucked away by worthless goop... Be careful while tuning that and then the only big loss with an "everything" install is a whopping chunk of disk space eaten up. Newsflash, disk is cheap. Real cheap. RedHat, allowed to eat all the burgers and sectors it wants like some bloated, Post-Jailhouse Rock Elvis only sucks back 3.3 Gb. Heck, that's less than 10% of the industry standard shipping 40Gig.
I agree, not having a compiler is annoying, but in most other, *cough* operating systems *cough*, the greatest decision left to the user as to what software is installed is whether or not you want Solitaire on your box.