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Re: [K12OSN] ATTN: Redhat Developers (OT)

This is exactly why I have abandoned Redhat on all linux machines I control but my LTSP machine. My search for another distro started when I got my iBook and decided I wanted to run Linux on it. I also decided at that point that if I could run the same distro on my iBook as I ran on my desktop, it would be awfully nice. So the search began. I tried every linux distro I could find that claimed even marginal support for both ppc and i386 architecture. After many installs, I ended up returning to one of the first ones I tried, Gentoo.
For those of you who don't know, Gentoo is a source-based meta-distribution, where every package that is installed is also compiled on your system. See www.gentoo.org for more info. The biggest draw for Gentoo is their package system, Portage. It has to be one of, if not _the_, most elegant and usable package management system I have ever used. An Order of magnitude more powerful than RPM, less arcane than APT; it is, IMHO, the closest thing the community currently has to a perfect package manager. Which is not to say that it _is_ perfect, it still has many weaknesses, but that is not the point of this post...
I am currently working on a big server upgrade. I am replacing / rebuilding a handful of servers, and adding a couple new ones to add new functionality. All told, I am installing or building 9 servers. I started this with the intention of moving everything to RH 9. I made this choice because RH is the distro I really cut my teeth on and was therefor the one I was most familiar with and also because of RH's good support. Well, part way through setting up my third server, I got caught in dependency hell yet again. Now you should know two things. First, IMHO, exactly what I was trying to install is beside the point; suffice it to say that it was a very prominent (although complex) security monitoring program. I feel that it is beside the point because I have been caught in RPM dependency hell more times than I can count for virtually every size and type of application out there. This was simply the "straw that broke the camel's back". Second, a year ago, I would have just fought through it like I had in the past. I would have just accepted it as part and parcel of the Linux experience. An annoying side effect to using the software I like and believe in. This time, after spending 45 minutes fighting nested dependencies, I said "fsck it" and started installing Gentoo.
I am now about halfway done migrating all of my machines to Gentoo. It's taking a long time, since every package I install has to be compiled at least once. I think that is acceptable. While I "waste time" waiting for something to compile, someone else is "wasting time" fighting dependencies. The difference is I can work on something else while software is compiling, the dependency fighter cannot.
This is turning more of a "Gentoo is great" rant than I had wanted it to, so I'm going to reign myself in now. That was not my intent in posting this. I just wanted to echo the sentiment that package management, especially in RPM -based systems, needs some very serious attention. I know there are tools that make it easier, but in my experience, they have proven buggy and unfinished. And besides, the "official" tools really should be the best, should they not? Especially in the world of OSS where there are no legal constraints to keep the best code and features from being integrated into the "official" tools. Anyway, I guess the bottom line is that Redhat has lost in me a long-time user, customer, and advocate to another distro simply because of their infuriating package system. There HAS to be a better way, and maybe I will give them a try if they figure something out, but it may be too late.


At 05:15 PM 6/5/2003 -0500, you wrote:
First of all, let me say I am still a Redhat fan and Redhat remains my
Distro of choice. However, there has to be something done about the way
Redhat handles packages. Someone on another list summed it up best when he

Most other distros have a package system that's aware of what's needed for
packages, is aware of where to get the dependencies, and is willing to get
them and install them for you automatically. For what it's worth, this
very problem is why I quit using RedHat.

I can't help but agree with that point. The number one reason people stop
using Redhat (or never start in the first place) is because of the package
management. I could go on and on but you get the idea of this message. I
think I am speaking for the entire community when I ask the developers:
Are there any plans for revamping the package management in Redhat? Must
we continue to strip out up2date and the such in order to replace it with
apt-get or another package? How much longer will "RPM hell" continue to be
the blotch that runs so many away from the Redhat Linux Distribution?

Caleb Wagnon MCP A+
Network Administrator
Fordyce Public Schools
Fordyce, Arkansas 71742
(870) 352-2968

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