[nSLUG] Upgrade tools, or... (choosing a new distribution)

Jeff Warnica jeff at coherentnetworksolutions.com
Tue Sep 11 17:51:07 ADT 2007

Your general argument seems to boil down to "Slackware has the best  
dependency handling system, through ignoring dependencies in a  
programmatic way". And then you go on to concluded that "Slackware is  
stable because it uses stable packages". Well, duh.

There is a tradeoff of stability and freshness. Regardless of the  
quality of ones tools {brains + autoconf,  apt, zypper, yum...}, this  
is a universal truth. Slack is on one end (its entire theory of  
operation is to be very much like "historical" UNIX in its  
userfriendlyness, through to its package choices) with Fedora possibly  
at the other (being a testing ground for software). Neither is "right"  
because there is a clear and obvious tradeoff to make here.

Suggesting that the best way to handle dependencies is to ignore them,  
from a system design perspective, is just wrong. I /can/ usually  
figure out why configure fails. But most of the time, I have real work  
to do. While we can debate the relative quality of PM tools - and PM  
infrastructure/culture - a PM system that gets you 90% of the way  
there is infinitely better then none at all. And of those discussed  
today, they all are better then 90%.

Quoting Daniel Morrison <draker at gmail.com>:

> On 11/09/2007, D G Teed <donald.teed at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 9/11/07, Daniel Morrison <draker at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > All this talk about dependencies, Debian, Ubuntu, and RH/Fedora - My, my!
>> >
>> > In Slackware, there is no dependency management. Install what you need,
>> > leave out what you don't need.  If you forgot something, install it.  The
>> > default distribution is small enough by today's standards that you may as
>> > well install all of it.
>> This is not true.
> Sorry, which part of my text that you quoted are you referring to?
>> Any more complicated package will have
>> dependencies.  If you are installing ipcalc, then perhaps
>> little is required to put that in, but on the other end of
>> the scale, something like a DVD player package for X
>> has many dependencies.  Libraries, tzdata, etc. are
>> a fact of life in computing which eliminate reinventing
>> the wheel for every program, and thus there will be
>> dependencies in all OSes.
> I don't disagree with any of this... certainly there are dependencies
> between packages in Slackware.  Many packages are grouped in sets (e.g.
> kde, TeX, development tools, etc...) to simplify the task of selecting
> what you want without leaving anything out.  All the official Slackware
> distribution packages together are a set as well.
> If you want to install something that isn't available in the default
> Slackware distribution, then it's up to you to ensure it's requirements
> are met.  You can compile from source, and worry about the dependencies
> yourself.  Or get someone else to do it - download packages from
> linuxpackages.net, for example, where the packager usually lists (and if
> you're lucky, also makes available) the required packages.
> Finally, because Slackware uses stable releases of standard software
> compiled as much as possible according to the software maintainer's
> instructions (and the file system standard), packages are very often
> compatible across distribution releases.  Very often I don't bother
> recompiling my custom packages between Slackware releases, because the
> "old version" packages still work just fine.
> -D.
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