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Re: [school-discuss] Open Source CD distribution

I hate to say it, especially since it's one of the most highly touted
benefits of Linux, but I'm really not thrilled with any of the Linux
package managers.  If I had to choose one, the one I'm most
comfortable with is the Slackware package management system with spkg
and it doesn't even handle dependencies.  I don't know if it's because
I'm approaching this as someone building the software to distribute or
if it's because I have a really slow Internet connection.  I do know
that when I look up the documents for packaging software on various
Linux distributions, it's either poorly documented or takes a lot of
trial and error to get something packaged by their standards.  It
might be easy on a Debian system to download a binary package (if you
have the Internet speed) or download the source package and build with
their presets, but I haven't seen any easy ways to build the package
in the first place, aside from possibly building a package with
another method and using a tool like alien to convert it.  If anyone's
had experience in creating packages from scratch (debs, rpms, etc.),
I'd would love to ask some questions on techniques.  Maybe documenting
how to do some of this at the Schoolforge wiki would be of benefit to
other educators so they can create their own packages.

A lot of the software I like to run is not available in the package
archives, so I end up having to build it myself if I want to use those
programs.  Also, most software distributions tend to only keep
software that's under current development.  Being a programmer, I
don't care if development of a program is current or not.  I look for
useful programs and if I like them, I'm willing to patch them myself
to keep them running.

I don't know how many people are sneaker-netting their applications
between machines or have older machines with low resources or want to
get the most out of their newer machines, but that's the audience I'm
targeting.  I also personally prefer a cross-platform solution.  If
you're used to a particular program at home and it runs on Linux, it
doesn't do much good if you can't use it at work and you're stuck
using Windows there.  It's nice to be able to share Open Source with
coworkers who have Windows, Macs, etc. and let them know the benefits
of using those programs.  If programs are available on multiple
platforms, you can use your favorites anywhere.

I'd be very interested in hearing how others deal with situations with
no or slow Internet when it comes to package management or sharing
programs.  What's the best way to get the programs you need or update
a distribution?  It would be great if we could add some pages to the
wiki and recommend different techniques educators can use to get
software into the hands of potential users.  We could list CD/DVD
collections (like OpenDisc Education), talk about live CDs/DVDs
available or booting distributions from flash drives (our Linux Linux
group did some talks on this), how to use package managers/management
and create packages for them and how to sneaker-net.  I'd really like
to see us put together some information/brainstorm ideas on best ways
to get custom software (software that's built from scratch or has
custom settings or fixes) out to educators in a user friendly manner.
If the software's already available in a Linux distribution and the
user has that distribution, getting the programs that are already in
that distribution isn't a real problem.  Most distributions document
how end users can use their own package management system.  How do we
get programs to educators who can't use an off-the-shelf solution for
a variety of reasons (no Internet, program isn't in distribution, need
it to work on another operating system, etc.)?  Any ideas?


On 3/17/12, Daniel Villarreal <yclwebmaster@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> As far as GNU/Linux goes, anyone with administrator rights can use the
> synaptic package management system on debian-based distributions to
> install/uninstall programs. It's also very easy to check for updates
> and update programs at the command line. On Fedora-based systems, it's
> likewise fairly easy to do this.
> I'll discuss this more when I post my review on skolelinux (http://slx.no/).
> regards,
> Daniel Villarreal
> http://youcanlinux.org/
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