[linux-elitists] [RANT] Debian the Elitist Distribution?

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Sun Feb 22 21:39:49 PST 2004

on Mon, Feb 23, 2004 at 12:56:38PM +1100, Mike MacCana (mikem@cyber.com.au) wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Feb 2004, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > on Sat, Feb 21, 2004 at 04:01:55PM +1100, Mike MacCana (mikem@cyber.com.au) wrote:
> > > On Fri, 20 Feb 2004, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > >
> > > Its important that any Linux system can unpack an package, and RPM meets
> > > that (using my personal definition of 'Linux', which is a Linux
> > > distribution that is attempting to conform to the LSB. If it isn't, then I
> > > don't think it's Linux. Yes, really).
> > >
> > > The advantage of being able to unpack a Linux (RPM) package on other non
> > > Linux systems is pretty minimal.
> (now remember kids, we're talking about default installs...)

Speak for yourself.  I'm talking direct personal experiences.

You're more than welcome to speak of "standard" GNU/Linux, but in my
experience, broken systems tend not to adhere closely to standards of
any sort.

I've been in circumstances where I _couldn't_ access RPMs with tools at
hand, and forced to a system wipe and install as a result.

I've _never_ been in the situation of not being able to deal with a DEB.
Tools at hand being typically:

  - A working Debian installation.

  - A crippled Debian installation (say:  sash and busybox).

  - tomsrtbt, LNX-BBC, Knoppix.

  - Cygwin (on legacy MS Windows)
I've generally got copies of the bootables with me, which covers 99%+ of
the hardware I encounter in daily use.

I've recoverd systems with wiped root partitions, have a script to
restore apt state after losing the /var tree, and helped popularize
chroot Debian installations (didn't invent it, but documented and
pointed people to it).  Often with the tools above.  tomsrtbt and a
base2_2.tar.gz image are still my preferred installation method.

> > Those are the words of someone who's never had to resurrect a
> > crippled system using at-hand tools, whether they be other 'nixen,
> > 'Doze, or other tools of last resort.
> Its the words of someone who finds that the out of box installs of
> most Operating Systems rarely provide the tools I need.

There's an old aphorsim about avoiding poverty:  keep your needs few.
In engineering, it's translated as KISS.

DEBs (ar-based) lower the bar markedly vis-a-vis RPM.

> > Being able to "ar -x" a DEB and pull out the pieces you need _has_
> > saved this homie's ass more than once.
> Has anyone ever cursed a bz2 file when trying to unpack it on an old
> Solaris box? I wouldn't, I'd just get bz2 on Solaris. If that's a
> problem for anyone, they have bigger issues to deal with.

Funny, but last time I was on a Solaris box (E10K at Visa) I wasn't
granted the root password.

Your attitude is the same one I find objectionable in websites which
mandate specific tools, plugins, or user-agent strings for access.
They're broken.  They turn away a fair bit of traffic.  The requirements
are very nearly always bogus:  there's no functional reason a lower bar
can't be offered.

> > > Does the fact that bz2 isn't installed on most proprietary Unix or
> > > Windows make .bz2 a 'non Unix native' date format? Nope, because you
> > > can get tools to easily unpack a bz2 on Soalris, Windows, etc. As you
> > > can with RPM.
> >
> > bz2 is a general compression format, not a specific package archive
> > format.  7zip (IIRC, on the GnuWin II disk) handles this.
> > I'd _still_ argue against using bz2 in general
> Of course - you're aginst formats that aren't available on other
> systems in the default installs. 

If my goal is interoperability with others, I'll stick with tools known
to be interoperable.  Several generations behind state-of-the-art.

If I'm downloading large files over dialup, I'll damned sure use bz2 if
I have it available to me.

> Last time I checked, 7zip wasn't included with Windows. I have no idea
> why you mentioned it.

I mentioned it because it _is_ both freely and generally _availble_, if
not installed by default.  As contrasted with RPM.

> If the existence of 7zip  makes bz2 'half ok' then why doesn't it make
> RPM - 7zip works with that too...?

I wasn't aware of this.

Not having 7zip in front of me, I'm not able to assess this.

Note that RPM _remains_ a binary format subject to incompatible change
over time (and it has).

> > I'd _still_ argue against using bz2 in general because it _is_ new
> > enough not to be generally supported.
> Fine. I make a point of running a network 

Joe sixpack isn't "running a network".  He or she has the tools
available to him, generally on installation.  While this is generally
less true of GNU/Linux users, it's still not a good reason to impose 
complex systems requirements and dependencies (referring to RPM).

> where its easy to get the software I need to handle the task, and find
> formats like RPM and bz2 fine. You prefer to have formats the are
> available in the default installs of non-Linux Operating Systems.
> Just don't try and justify our difference of opinion with dumb
> assumptions. 



Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    I'll stop calling this Administration "Orwellian" when they stop
    using 1984 as an operations manual
    - J. Bradforth DeLong, on Bush           http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/
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