Supporting distro re-packaging (Was: [sclug] Linux Apprentice Wanted !)

Alex Butcher lug at
Tue Nov 7 11:10:46 UTC 2006

On Tue, 7 Nov 2006, Roland Turner (SCLUG) wrote:

> On Tue, 2006-11-07 at 07:22 +0100, pieter claassen wrote:
>> BTW. a little off-topic but has anybody read this regarding the problems with
>> supporting custom apps in distros?
> Hmm. I've not heard of this guy before, but he appears to have a bit of
> an attitude problem; the distros don't make the changes that they make
> arbitrarily, they make them to satisfy norms and interfaces that apply
> across thousands of packages within the distro. In the particular case
> of Apache (and other web servers) on Debian, the evolution to the
> current situation was slow and deliberate. The essential problem that it
> solves is to be able, reliably, to turn modules on and off in installer
> scripts, rather than by hand; the other changes are a straightforward
> consequence of those changes.

Agreed. I see similar complaints about Red Hat's modifications, which are
done for similar reasons (i.e. to be able to provide a coherent base OS that
properly integrates everything they ship).

The problem, as I see it, is that many end-users and developers see 'Linux'
as a single OS, when in truth, it isn't. Consequently, we have end-users
trying to pull upstream packages that haven't been packaged according to the
conventions of the distro they want to run it on, and getting in a pickle.
IMHO, the best approach is for upstream developers to provide well-formed
native packages for the distros they wish to support (assuming, of course,
that they're happy with non-developer users using their code at that stage
in its development!) as well as the raw untargeted package. The next best
approach is for them to leave it to the distros to package their stuff for
end-users and put a warning saying that it isn't really mature enough for
non-expert/non-developer users.

I tell any non-developer who harangues me about having to integrate non-core
packages themselves to regard the upstream package as 'technology previews';
i.e. just because you /can/ use them, doesn't mean you should. I'm sure
there were versions of MS Office 95 built for Windows 3.x floating around
Microsoft - that doesn't mean that they were ready for end-users, nor would
the end-users expect them to be so. For developers, I tell them to get off
their arse and build fully-integrated native packages themselves, then make
them available in the most appropriate way to the rest of the user base. :-)

> - Raz

Best Regards,
Alex Butcher, Bristol UK.                           PGP/GnuPG ID:0x5010dbff

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