A Suggestion For A Simple Package Manager

Mike McCarty Mike.McCarty at sbcglobal.net
Wed Mar 18 06:50:01 PDT 2009

Frank Peters wrote:
> 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"
> philosophy.

I believe it would, actually. There are wars fought over
which package manager "works right". Of course, no manager
is capable of meeting the needs of everyone. I come from a
background where RPM fits naturally with the kind of package
management and version control I'm accustomed to. I am also
aware that there are people who hate RPM. I'm not familiar
enough with APT (though I've used it for install and maintenance
of a Debian system, I've not built any packages) to know
how it works, but I'm aware that there are APT people
who wouldn't touch RPM with a ten foot pole. I've seen
flame wars fought over whether another GUI (Synaptic?)
on top of apt doesn't do violence to the purity of the

Such endless arguments constitute one of the reasons
I'm no longer active on the support e-mail echoes for
the distros I've maintained.

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

That's certainly part of what is needed.

> 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

Ah, we disagree here. What I'm looking for is "my machine,
MY rules", not "I want to become an expert on all aspects
of Linux build and system maintenance". If I had a decent
source distro which actually gave me the control I want over
what features got built into the object, and which objects
got built and installed, then I'd use it. I haven't found

Becoming a Linux "fiddler" isn't a goal of mine. It seems
that it's beginning to wear on you. Maintaining a distro
is a lot of work. I'm impressed with the amount of labor
which gets contributed, essentially free, by the maintainers
of the "no charge" distros, like Fedora, Debian, Puppy,
and (yes) LFS.


> 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.

Or perhaps not. :-)

I would indeed call what you described a build manager,
not a package manager. I also agree that one is needed.
However, a build manager and a package manager, while
related, and both necessary, seem distinctly different
to me. A build manager would create packages using the
package manager. Version control and dependency management
are a part of package management which are both outside
the purview of build management.

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