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Old 01-21-2004, 01:30 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2003
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A question regarding installing software

I am seeing lots of references to software such as apt-get, which is supposedly the kill app of its time, from what I can gather. I do have some questions as to how it works, however.

If I have not used apt-get (or in my case, it would be swaret or slapt-get for Slackware) on an installation, and I wanted to in the future, would this pose a threat to my existing installations? I also don't want to have to worry about losing a future installation, either.

Right now, my system is set up in a very ordered structure. I don't want to lose that because I use some form of a package manager. I don't know how all these work, but I have been entirely too frustrated with compile issues and dependencies (grrr @ dependencies).

If somebody could shed some light on the bare basics behind how it all works, and what choice you have as a user in how it is set up, I would appreciate it =)

Old 01-21-2004, 03:07 PM   #2
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ANY change (manual by you or "remote" by
apt-get, rpm, emerge or whatever the flavour
of package-management) will pose a threat in
that it MIGHT break something. There are claims
that all packaging systems easily allow for a
roll-back, but I don't have a problem thinking
of a scenario that will break any of them. And
in this respect I think manually is safest, because
you'll bloody-well know what you changed where.

Old 01-21-2004, 03:16 PM   #3
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This kind of question will provoke many 'subjective' responses, just an FYI to hold out and get everyone's opinion, as I'm sure they'll give it

As for me:
I've used several different types of package managers, all have their ups and downs. Some are quite a bit more organized, and in fact allow you to choose where things are stored/installed. Take for example, my favorite to date, Gentoo's Portage. Very customizable, as well as extremely verbose. This allows the user to actually physically see what is going on, and in return, build the software to suit their needs. However, there is always a few drawbacks when you aren't hand rolling every package you install. You will likely setup Portage with your most common preferred options, and your 'make.conf' file with your desired compile options. This will be great for a good portion of the applications you install; however it will build ALL packages that way. It's not always your desire, and there are indeed ways to override these options. But that's not the point. In that case, you are then back in the place of tailoring quite a bit of installs simply to do what you already are doing (before using the package manager).

Package management, to me, is a great tool if you:
a. Don't have the patience or knowledge to compile your own applications;
b. Have the need to deploy this distro on MANY machines, all having the same/nearly the same configuration/applications;
c. Require a constant check on package updates, and an easy way to incorporate these updates;
d. Are testing out many tools to see what fits your needs/wants/desires.

There are plenty of other reasons, but for me, those are the reasons I feel that a package manager exists.

Now to answer some of your questions:

Not really an exact quote
If you install something via a package manager, and then later want to install a source version of this package, will it cause problems such as version conflicts and so on?
Yes and no. If you install all your packages by hand into say /usr/local/myapps then no. Your PATH description (shown by typing echo $PATH at the command prompt) will show where your system will look first for executable applications. What this means is:
If you install applications to /usr/local/myapps with ' ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/myapps ' And then append to the END of your $PATH the directory /usr/local/myapps;
and later, your package manager installs an application of a newer/different version to /usr/local/bin and /usr/local/bin appears before /usr/local/myapps in your $PATH variable, then it will be executed instead of the version installed in /usr/local/myapps. Will the conflicting libraries pose a risk in such a situation? Nope. Not to my knowledge. The application will call upon the specific versions of the libs that it requires, and if it doesn't have them, then the dependency isn't satisfied and simply needs to be satisfied. This however is not always true, not even with a package manager. There are always conflicting versions of certain applications, and worse, a necessary dependency may be the confilicting package. In situations like that, I will tend to find a binary version of the application, or see if I can install to a different directory until this is fixed, or until I figure out how to fix the problem.

Ok, well good luck. And as a slacker, you should certainly have and be aware of checkinstall

Old 01-21-2004, 04:01 PM   #4
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I don't think I have checkinstall, actually. I don't know why, but yeah.... maybe it's something that I didn't include during the install?

What I'm mostly worried about is live upgrades of PHP, MySQL, and Apache. Especially Apache. There's not a whole lot that can be worse than all of a sudden having all your users see a freshly installed Apache page, while you scramble your ass to fix it --- or maybe your configuration was overwritten or something (I've backed that up just in case ).

I would like to be able to use package management in the future in order to be able to satisfy dependencies and such quickly, as well as not having to worry about hit or miss compiling, but I really don't want to worry about losing information, or worse, compromising my system security.

For example, I have Apache installed to /usr/local/apache2/ --- and I don't want a package manager to come along and install my next upgrade to /usr/local/. Such things can never turn out good. I suppose gentoo's Portage would be good in that case.

Also, in cases like Apache, when installing from Windows it keeps your old httpd.conf. Does upgrading Apache in Linux do that as well?


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