[linux-elitists] Packaging, deps, and office suites

Karsten M. Self karsten@linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 29 12:40:29 PDT 2007

on Mon, Oct 29, 2007 at 04:38:52PM +1100, Jeff Waugh (jdub@perkypants.org) wrote:
> <quote who="James Sparenberg">
> > 3.  RPM and deb both need a logical "OR" for dependencies.  (deb may have
> > a crude form)
> How much ORier do you need your OR to be? Depends: package1 | package2 (and
> may involve version number differences)...

There's also Provides:, e.g.:  exim, exim4, and postfix all provide
mail-transport-agent, allowing the dependency of "mail-transport-agent"
to be provided by any one of these (or several other) packages.  Also
neatly gets the OR logic out of the package with the dependency and into
those which can satisfy it.
> > 4.  Forced removal of packages I want to keep.  Debian is the worst here.
> > I install X that requires Y and Z ... later when I remove X it says that Y
> > and Z are orphaned and need to be removed ... Ubuntu variant of Debian
> > gets real insistant that I remove Y and Z.  I want to keep them so I have
> > to remove them.... and then re-install them Once I do debian says "Ok they
> > aren't part of a dependency chain they are ok.  *sigh*

So, then, mark the package as requested.
> If you avoid aptitude or apt-get autoremove, the implicit dependency
> tracking is never invoked. That said, it's an extremely handy feature, and
> very easy to adapt to if you are in that situation.

Um, bad advice.

Aptitude _is_ the recommended package installer for Debian these days,
and its deps resolution generally is to be preferred to straight
apt-get.  In particular, mixing use of apt-get and aptitude tends to
confuse things (some packages are marked as explicitly installed, some
as only resolving deps).  And in most cases, pacakges installed
automatically to resolve a dep should be removed when their dependant
package is removed.  In the small number of cases when this behavior
isn't desired, take appropriate measures as described above.
> > 5. Forced dependencies.  Were there is no real dependency (like a lib) but
> > instead it's "Well people who like X also want Y and Z.) Yes I want a text
> > editor and no I don't want a full office suite.  Why can't I install a
> > word processor without a full office suite.

In Debian, if a dependency is specified where it does not in fact exist,
that is a packaging error.  There is a relationship, "Recommends",
specifically indicated for this.  If you're installing a task or
meta-package and are getting this behavior, in Debian, well, you're
getting what you asked for.
> You can. For instance, Abiword. Or you can suck up the damage of the rather
> large OOo Writer package and dependencies, which is entirely an upstream
> issue (OOo has a huge amount of somewhat shared code, and no one has teased
> it apart yet), not a packaging issue.

OOo is and long has been an abomination, from an architectural
perspective.  Where possible, I prefer the individual apps from KOffice,
or Abiword + Gnumeric, over OOo.  OOo improving, nearly to the point of
usability, though very, very slowly.  See Don's recent LinuxWorld blog
item on various opening the source strategies.  In OOo's case, an old
proprietary codebase is involved, and it's taken most of six or seven
years to see substantive improvements.

Where I've got a real choice, it's vim and awk over wordprocessing and


Karsten M. Self <karsten@linuxmafia.com>        http://linuxmafia.com/~karsten
    Ceterum censeo, Caldera delenda est.
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