A Suggestion For A Simple Package Manager

Mike McCarty Mike.McCarty at sbcglobal.net
Tue Mar 17 10:35:40 PDT 2009


Frank Peters wrote:
> Hello LFS users,
> 
> The easy management of installed software packages is always
> an important concern.  After compiling, the "make install" command
> does not help the user at all in knowing where the installed files
> are located.  The major Linux distributions have invented many types
> of package management schemes but most of those are very complex.

I've worked in software at various levels and in both small
and large companies (one was just another guy and I, one
was a large multinational telecomm company) for over 20 years.
IME, version management is a complex problem, and no simple solution
will do everything necessary, and of course complex solutions by
definition have their own problems. I would argue that even the
complex solutions don't do everything necessary.

I'm not presently in the mood to start a package manager flame
war. I'm sure each has its own adherents for various reasons.
Each package manager is a compromise somewhere between simplicity,
ease of use, and completeness.

A good package manager is, IMO, a necessity. It's not a matter
of just "binary distros", which I've come to conclude are not
the right way to go. I've fought too many battles with distro
management teams who would not listen to the needs of users.
The single most important "feature" of LFS which attracts me
is "my machine MY rules".

Unfortunately, that almost precludes having a comprehensive
package manager. If LFS team chooses to support a package
manager, then that becomes the supported one, and then it's
no longer "my machine, MY rules".

So, the conundrum.

LFS can't support every package manager out there, because
it would just be too much effort. LFS can't just support one
of them, because then it won't attain the "my machine, MY rules"
goal.

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!"

Another would be for users to step forward and create the SPEC files
(or whatever) for the entire distro, and manage it for themselves,
with LFS simply hosting the product for ease of download.

Another would be for individuals to install LFS and BLFS or whatever
"by the book", and then build their own SPEC files or whatever for
any additional apps they install, or request the owners of the apps
to do so, and treat the basic LFS/BLFS as something which doesn't get
maintained, but rather rebuilt when necessary. That also means, of
course, that /etc/... has to be redone, CUPS reconfigured, etc. every
time the system gets rebuilt, and one has to go through the laborious
(and time consuming) rebuild (though "automated LFS" may help there
somewhat).

There may be another solution, but I don't see it.

Until someone is willing to put in the effort to create the environment
necessary for real package management (which is considerable) I don't
think that yet another "here's a simple way to do package management"
is going to be too helpful.

Anyway, ISTM that before discussing Yet Another Simple Package Manager,
the philosophy behind any package management has to be decided. So far,
the LFS decision is "we don't do package management". If that's the
final decision, then I don't think we need more package managers. We've
already got too many, IMO.

For those who really do want a package manager (and I consider one
to be necessary) then step up and produce the necessary control
environment for your favorite one, like RPM or APT. That, or
switch to something like CentOS, grab the source, and build that,
after making whatever changes you need.

Mike
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