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it is always good install software from sources and compile for your own machine with your desired cpu options.
by default all software in apt repositories compiled with -march i386 -mtune pentium4 options, so theoretically they will run on i386 machine but optimised for pentium4 cpu.
If you have athlon, or i586, or penitum III, or even i686 you can change cpu options and compile src.rpm especially for your i686 using i686 instructions.
so, if you don't want to use precompiled binaries via apt, and you do not want install gentoo linux for three days, you have no choice but to find, check all dependencies, compile and install packages manually.
now if-so provides best solution of package compilation intergated with rpm.
btw, it is very useful for old computers too.
I noticed that if-so works times faster than apt and with its help I am able to install modern packages even on an old systems.
how it works
during 'if-so update' if-so scans provided in configuration file url's for src.rpm appearence, and create its own database
then you can use it very simple. just type
if-so packagename architecture -n?
and if-so will find package , check for dependencies, download all src rpms
compile and installs them in your system.
-n? switch means that if-so will check for a latest varsion automatically while without it if-so will ask you every time if several versions available which one you prefer to use.
If You are using another than redhat/fedora rpm based system, then change rpm build directory that is by default /usr/src/redhat
Debian port is not yet implemented.