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I'm an experienced computer user/programmer who migrated to Linux (Redhat 7.3) last year.
Things are coming along fine. But I need some orientation on some long-term issues involving installs from source, upgrades, and such. I haven't found good discussions on the web about these more subtle issues. And the books I have seen are on basic "how do I do this now" stuff. So I am looking for references (not complete answers here) that will help me with things like...
What happens if I install a Redhad 8.0 rpm on my 7.3 system? If it fails, why? Is that fixable? What happens if I install a Redhat 7.0 rpm on my 7.3 system? If it fails, why? Is that fixable?
How do experienced users keep things tidy when installing from source? I'm quite comfortable doing this (and have done so many times). That's not the issue. But if I try something out and decide I don't want to keep it, how do I reliably clean it all off my system? (Rpm's have an uninstall feature that takes care of this.)
If I have Redhat 7.3 and upgrade the kernel, do I now have an 8.0 (or whatever) system? If not, what *do* I have?
What is a good strategy for keeping my Linux install current?
Please understand, I'm not hoping to have all this answered here. I am looking for specific references, book recommendations, and rtfm's so I can study up and move forward in my linux management skills. OTOH if you have some wisdom to offer here on any of this, that's fine too.
Those are valid, important questions. I can answer a few and possibly point to a few good references.
Adding newer or older RPMS is fine as long as the dependencies are taken care of. What I mean is that some supporting libraries are required to be a certain version. If you don't have that version you will need to install it. "Current" is a good program that automatically gives you the required dependencies if it can find them. Rpms are very fixable if you have a problem. Just delete and reinstall.
Most of my software compiling has been done via the FreeBSD port system, so I can't guarantee that is the same in Linux, but you can 'make deinstall' compiled software to remove it. Then just delete the src package and your done.
Red Hat 8.0 is just a CD release. You can keep your 7.3 updated to mimic 8.0 with no problems. If you do so, just update /etc/issue to say "Red Hat 8.0" and you now have 8.0.
To keep current you can run update programs such as RedHat's "up2date", or download custom programs with greater functionality such as the above mentioned "current" and\or "AutoUpdate".
I couldn't think if any direct references to your questions so I'll leave it a that. Most this stuff is learned by watching others, posting to helpful forums such as this, trial and error, and reading bits and pieces on the Internet. It's all really well thought out when you think about it. Sure as anything, if you think that something is difficult then there is always a better, easier way to do it.
When I install programs from source (most of my services) I try to install them into separate directories. When I install a new version of Apache, for example, I configure it to install to /usr/local/Apache-versionnumber. When I've got a new version working, I can simply delete the old one (sometimes change a few symlinks) and it's done. Sometimes I just don't have enough space to keep all the sources and use 'make uninstall' after a year or so.
If you have an RH 7.x system and upgrade your kernel you simply have 7.x system with upgraded kernel. It will be 8.0 when you upgrade everything. After all, you just have Linux. Distro doesn't matter much. It's hard to say what distros my machines run. I can just say what I installed last time... As ghight wrote, you can put everything in your /etc/issue, even "MyLinuxDistro version 1.0" (sometimes it's a good idea to change it because of security issues, BTW).
I don't use redhat, so I can't comment directly on that, but it is important to note that distrobutions sometimes change directory schemes to stay with current trends. With rpms you need to make sure that they are installing the files where your system would expect them. (eg: if you are installing an rpm for a gnome program, make sure that where it will install it corrosponds with where gnome itself is installed... again, distro's feel the need to change this from time to time) As previously mentioned you'll need to make sure that your dependencies are met.
As for uninstalling compiled software, typically make uninstall from the directory you originally did the make install from will remove it.