A Suggestion For A Simple Package Manager

Frank Peters frank.peters at comcast.net
Tue Mar 17 13:06:03 PDT 2009

On Tue, 17 Mar 2009 11:35:40 -0600
Mike McCarty <Mike.McCarty at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

> ISTM that this is a philosophical problem which must be addressed.
> One way of addressing it would be to abandon "my machine, MY rules"
> as an absolute principle, and support, say RPM, or APT, or whatever,
> turning LFS into a sort of GENTOO type source distro.
> Another would be for LFS simply to say (as it has) "we don't support
> package management, do it for yourself. The only 'package' we support
> is exactly the collection of software described in The Book. Read
> Book, Book Good!"

A package manager does not have to break the "my machine, my rules"

My idea for a package manager would fulfill two basic requirements:

1) Allow the user to build a package from source using a
pre-established set of CFLAGS, configure options, and other

2) Allow the user to know what is on his system and where
the files are located by creating a simple text database.

The dependency issue does not need to be addressed because
most followers of LFS will eventually learn enough about
their Linux system to know the dependencies for most
packages.  The important thing is to have a quick and
simple method for customized building, installing, and
un-installing.  The tracking of dependencies can be accomplished
in other ways.

A Bash or Perl script could handle the first requirement by
pulling the desired variables out of a text database.  The
second requirement would necessitate hooking into the
output of the "make install" command and I'm not sure how this
could be done.

Doesn't the Automated Linux From Scratch project hope
to create something similar?

For several years I have enjoyed building and maintaining
my own custom Linux system.  I do not follow the LFS
method exactly, but I do use the LFS books for much advice
and learning.  However, my labor of love is now becoming
less and less appealing.  Constantly updating packages manually
is becoming too much of a burden and my time needs to be spent
on more worthwhile pursuits.  A package manager such as I have
described would help tremendously.

The last straw for me has been the X Window package.  Recently,
the X package has been split from one to over TWO HUNDRED
individual programs.  The developers have provided a build
script which automates the compile process, but the script
has to be tediously edited to be able to customize the build.
The last two X releases were not without a few stubborn problems
in building.

But things have become even worse.  The latest changes in the
libxcb package, which is the new replacement for libX11, have
now broken everything which depends on X Windows and hence
require a re-build of most graphical packages.  Without some
kind of build manager I am now very reluctant to undertake
this extensive re-compile project.  I am even seriously
considering moving to a standard Linux distribution to
free myself from this growing problem of basic maintenance.

A package manager -- or perhaps it should be called a build
manager -- is sorely needed.  Perhaps not immediately, but
sooner or later the LFS follower will come to realize the
inherent pains of constant manual maintenance.

Frank Peters

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