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SEUL-Leaders: debian (vs redhat)

jghasler is something of the debain guru in seul project.  so i asked him
about various things to help in deciding whether we might want to go with
debian, not redhat as a start.  here is his reponse to my questioning.

i'm just sending to seul-leaders for now, because i expect to start a thread
on this on seul-project soon, but not yet.

i think we are a bit biased toward redhat right now, and should look into
debian more seriously before deciding on seul's approach (or presenting to
seul-project, who i think is also biased similarly, and not too informed yet).

i'm hacking on both redhat and debian now, and trying to get more knowledgable
so i can provide useful info for making our decision on this. other people who
are interested in this may want to do likewise...


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To: Luka (Peter) <luka@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: packagers
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From: jghasler@win.bright.net
Date: 11 Aug 1997 14:30:10 -0500
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> i'm currently in favor of rpm, since: 
> -it has a lot of support behind it

What do you mean by support?

> -it is already well-known and is constantly being heavily tested

I'm sure dpkg is more heavily tested: their are several hundred different
developers producing debian packages, of which there are more than 1000.

> -it is extremely well documented

The man page for dpkg is weak (there is a new one, but I haven't seen it
yet).  However, there is a huge amount other documentation for dpkg,
dpkg-deb, and the debian packaging sytem.  There has to be: Debian packages
are produced and maintained by hundreds of people scattered around the

> so basically, rpm a pretty good, reliable package management system, and
> when it falls short of our needs it is relatively easy to figure out how
> to patch it

I think that dpkg and friends already do everything you need.  Debian
invented dependencies.

> 1. what are specific features dpkg has that rpm doesn't?  i know about
> the install/configure distinction, but that's the only major thing i can
> think of.

I've never used rpm, but from what I've read, Debian does a much better job
on dependencies.  It supports degrees of dependency, conflicts, and

> 2. do you know of any dpkg features that would be of particular utility
> under seul?

The various commands for extracting information from packages should be
very useful, as should 'auto-deconfigure".  dpkg and dpkg-deb, while they
can be used from the command line, were written to be run from a perl
script.  When deity (the dselect replacement) comes out we can easily alter
it to fit our requirements.  In fact, if what I've been reading is correct,
we may not need to alter it at all: just reconfigure it.

> from what i know, one of the major pains with tk is that it strews files
> all over the place, making it hard to keep everything together.

That really doen't matter to a package manager.  It keeps track of them all
the same way whether they are all in one directory or strewn about.

> i'm wondering if dpkg actually does anything exceptional, though, to make
> sure multiple versions can coexist without interfering with each other.

That is up to the package maintainer.

> i haven't seen a lot of documentation for dpkg.

There is quite a bit more than the man page.  There are man pages for
deb(5) , dpkg-deb(8) , dselect(8) and deb-control(5), and 320k of stuff in
/usr/doc/dpkg.  There is much more material in the Debian developer's
package, but I have not installed that.  I can email it all to you if you
wish.  It is all on the ftp site.

John Hasler
jghasler@win.bright.net (John Hasler)
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI

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