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But how does it matter if the distro has a package manager or not? Even if it is there and you do not want to use it, its completely your choice. Whenever you need to install package download tarball and compile. But just do not complain if it does not compile for some missing dependencies.
The original post requested not having a package manager in the desired distro.....
A package manager in addition to compiling a package, also checks for dependencies, which are other packages/programs necessary for the installed package to work properly. Some work better than others. If you want to install tarballs from a package maintainer's website, then you will also need to track down all the dependent programs that go along with it, kinda like going on a scavenger hunt on the internet, sounds like fun,eh?
There's nothing simple about that process, but as far as compiling, you can use just about any distro and install a tarball in that manner, but what would be the purpose, the same package could be installed if it is in the distro's repository, and most modern distros have excellent package managers handling the dependencies. I guess the poster that referred you to Linux From Scratch, has the best answer....you'll just make your own distro.
What's a packaging system?
What is the difference between package manager and it's front end?
In this specific case you are referring to (APT vs. Synaptic), Synaptic is simply a GTK+ graphical user interface for APT. The difference between them is the same difference which exists between any other command-line program and its GUI front end.