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Re: [school-discuss] Open Source CD distribution

On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 7:22 PM, LM <lmemsm@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> 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. ÂIf 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. ÂI 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. ÂI 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. ÂIt
> 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. ÂIf anyone's
> had experience in creating packages from scratch (debs, rpms, etc.),
> I'd would love to ask some questions on techniques. ÂMaybe 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. ÂAlso, most software distributions tend to only keep
> software that's under current development. ÂBeing a programmer, I
> don't care if development of a program is current or not. ÂI 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. ÂI also personally prefer a cross-platform solution. ÂIf
> 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. ÂIt'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. ÂIf programs are available on multiple
> platforms, you can use your favorites anywhere.

 Under synaptic (for debian-based systems) you can see the three
separate cross-platform sections.
There are similar tools for Fedora-based systems and RHEL-based (Red
Hat Enterprise Linux) systems.

> 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. ÂWhat's the best way to get the programs you need or update
> a distribution?

apt-offline is an Offline APT Package Manager

apt-offline can fully update and upgrade an APT based distribution without
connecting to the network, all of it transparent to apt

apt-offline can be used to generate a signature on a machine (with no network).
This signature contains all download information required for the apt database
system. This signature file can be used on another machine connected to the
internet (which need not be a Debian box and can even be running windows) to
download the updates...

Also see apt-zip...
Update a non-networked computer using apt and removable media

These scripts simplify the process of using dselect and apt on a
non-networked Debian box, using removable media like ZIP floppies and
USB keys...

Also see aptoncd...
Installation disc creator for packages downloaded via APT

APT removable repository creator and package backup tool for Debian based

This tool will allow you to create a media (CD or DVD) to use to install
software via APT in a non-connected machine, as well upgrade and install
the same set of softwares in several machines with no need to re-download
the packages again.

There are lots of tools to help you build .deb install files, a.k.a.
packages. There
are tools for developers to simplify the process and even ascertain
dependencies (search for "ceve").
See customdeb, debtree, packagesearch, and paco, while you're at it. I
highly suggest running synaptic if possible and look up search terms,
such as
"debian," "package," etc.

>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. ÂWe 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. ÂI'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.

The Debian GNU/Linux FAQ
Chapter 7 - Basics of the Debian package management syste



Also see
"Packaging software with RPM, Part 1: Building and distributing
packages," by Martin Streicher

Also see

> 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. ÂMost distributions document
> how end users can use their own package management system. ÂHow 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.)? ÂAny ideas?

On one hand, it would be very convenient to have a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM
of software to install. On the other hand, that collection will
quickly become outdated. Look at how fast Mozilla/Firefox software is
updated. For GNU/Linux platform, as long as the updates are pushed out
to the respective repositories for the disribution in question,
updating is trivial. Sometimes it's necessary to update software as
quickly as possible for security reasons. Maybe a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM of
software to install with links to the respective software website and
instructions to check for updates would be in order?

For educators who are comfortable assisting with the administration of
computers, and If there's little to no internet connectivity, you
might ship them a set of software on removable media and give them
instructions for installing and/or updating software.

For educators who don't want to assist with computer administration or
who won't have administration rights, but do have an internet
connection, even if slow, have them put the removable media into the
computer and have someone remotely do installing and/or updating

I've not really addressed Microsoft products. I don't mind doing so,
but I'm more focused on GNU/Linux and other open-source operating
systems. Don't forget, Microsoft Windows XP end-of-life for support is
scheduled for April 2014

Daniel Villarreal
P.S. I've yet to publish my forthcoming review on Skolelinux.

> Sincerely,
> Laura
> 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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