Tuesday, 27 April 2004

Installing software...

I've been busy, not on this "soap box page", but on getting Linux to run on my PC at home. For those of your that want to have a look as to what I'm up to, please visit my Linux on Toshiba page. That page has been quite active, as I have been updating it with what I've been doing with Gentoo Linux. I cannot sing the praises of that distribution enough. When I want to install some application, I find it's name in the application repository, and then type in one simple command to download it. It will then compile and install itself onto my hard-drive. "So what?" I hear you say... Well, it also looks at anything it depends on (libraries, environmental applications), and then downloads them as well. "So what? Microsoft Windows does it easier!" Well... yes and no! It does do it a little easier, as it does provide one standard set of widgets for all applications to use, but it still does not provide library protection. That basically means, sometimes if you install something, you may find some of your other applications just stop working, because they are depending on their old libraries being there... the old libraries you've just re-installed with the new version.

Gentoo eliminates all this by compiling everything from source and having an excellent dependency resolution system. So excellent, that most times I only have to type in the one command to bring down a complete open source system. Red Hat Linux (and other RPM based distributions) has their own system called RPM, but it does not do as good a job of getting software installed. There have been many articles about this on the web, commonly known as RPM Hell. Pick any of the articles to have a read. I have not yet seen one article praising RPM for going about installing software the right way. If there is one, please inform me and I'll update this page. I cannot really comment about Debian's way or Slackware's way of doing things, since I haven't used them properly before, but I will in the next few weeks / months.

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