OT: [Gllug] Debian or Slack

Bruce Richardson itsbruce at uklinux.net
Mon Feb 23 17:30:21 UTC 2004

On Mon, Feb 23, 2004 at 04:52:09PM +0000, ben wrote:
> > I can't disagree with any of that but then I'm a
> > Debian bigot in the
> > first place.
> Okay, you've stoked my curiosity...
> Where to deb bigots stand vs. slack (I use this term
> in a non-flamebait way!!).

I've used Slackware before.  I even wrote a HOWTO on installing
Slackware onto very old laptops.  It was fun knocking around the
extremely spartan system and the BSD-style init scripts were

That said, I wouldn't pick it for the default distribution on a network
of any size.  I don't think it scales up.

> Do debianites tend to use pre-existing packages or
> roll-their-own, as I generally find myself doing for
> slack.

Bit of both, really.  Frankly, though, if the default packages in your
distribution of choice are built so badly that you *have* to roll your
own all the time, then you're using the wrong distribution.  I have to
co-ordinate networks across 15 sites in England, Wales and Africa and I
don't have time to be recompiling groff or getty or the like.

If a distribution is well designed then not only is rolling your own
applications something that is only needed in particular circumstances
but you have to be careful that you don't break a carefully integrated
system.  Where I do compile apps to my own specs, I always try to find a
Debian source package first.  Those apps that I do roll from scratch, I
manage with Stow.

Some people spend a lot of time compiling apps from scratch for the
personal sense of satisfaction it gives them.  Good luck to them but
they have more time than I do.  Others do it because it makes them feel
'leet, even though they only use the autoconf scripts and don't know
makefile from a fairy cake recipe.  Such types usually indulge in a lot
of tiresome penis-waggling about how this makes them hard-core hackers.
If they do it in front of me, I usually aim to leave them walking funny.

> I was almost down the road to becoming a slack bigot
> but I've had redhat imposed on me at work and I have
> to say it's not so bad. rpms are actually quite 
> powerful - both as a way to mess up a system and be
> it's master depending on how much of a mess of the
> spec file you make ;)

Right.  The point that is missed by the penis-wagglers is that to make
effective use of a package management system you need a thorough
knowledge of how to hand-roll packages *and* the packaging system.

That said, I do think that some people's attitudes to hand-rolling
versus packages is down to the abysmal build quality of many of the
contrib (and some of the core) packages that have traditionally been
available for Red Hat.  I'd expect Fedora to change that.


I see a mouse.  Where?  There, on the stair.  And its clumsy wooden
footwear makes it easy to trap and kill.  -- Harry Hill
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