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Old 08-20-2004, 10:54 AM   #1
Registered: Oct 2001
Location: Shrewsbury, England
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What is a 'package'

hello All,

A very basic question. What is a package? Do I understand that I can't just install an application on its own?

What I mean is that would I be unable to install a single programme, say a word processor or a spreadsheet, without having to having to also install a lot of other stuff I didn't want?

I ask this as I've read a lot about 'dependency hell' where one program seems to depend on another being installed. Or have I got confused?

Thanks in advance
Old 08-20-2004, 10:59 AM   #2
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well this depends (funny word, heh) on what app you if you want to install Gnome's game, say Gnometris, but you don't have Gnome installed, you probably will have to install some of Gnome's libraries as different packages. a package is somehow the same as in Windows - a thing that has other things inside it.

but, if you have Gnome and want to install Gnometris, you don't have to get anything else. you have all the app needs, so you just install the app itself. so it's not a "must" to install many packages when wanting to install one - it's only then if the app you want needs something you don't already have, like common libraries.

and "dependency hell" has partly been solved nowadays when there are "intelligent" package managers that automatically handle dependencies and tell you what you need and even get them for you with a single click or keypress..
Old 08-20-2004, 11:09 AM   #3
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A package contains all the files necessary to use and run an application or command.

That being said, some packages are dependent on other packages.
These "other packages" are most often a set of libraries - functions that were created for a specific purpose.

Programmers will use these libraries in order to build there application.
The reasoning behind this is simple: Why reinvent the wheel.

Most of the time, in a standard install of Linux, almost all the required libraries will be installed.
If you are missing a library, most graphical package managers will be able to resolve that dependency.
Old 08-20-2004, 05:27 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2001
Location: Shrewsbury, England
Posts: 71

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Hi Bouncer and Mathieu,

Thanks for troubling to reply. You've put my mind at rest somewhat - I suspect that I'll have to wait until I've built my new machine and installed a distro to really understand what you mean.

Best wishes,



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