[lug] a bit tired of updates

Rob Riggs rob at pangalactic.org
Wed Oct 27 10:10:15 MDT 1999

Let me clarify some mis-perceptions expressed in Michael's post.

"Pedersen, Michael J" wrote:
> RPM files are a totally new format (which is why other distributions use a
> program named "alien" to read them).

RPMs use the 'cpio' archive format. The reason for the name 'alien'
is that it converts packages from foreign environments to be used
locally. In fact, 'alien' also converts (rather poorly) from DEB
to RPM. What is perceived to be "alien" often depends on one's
perspective. (Yes, 'alien' was originally written to convert RPM
to DEB, but is has transcended its roots.)

> RPM files either don't have post-install scripts, or don't do much with
> them.  Post-install scripts allow a program to properly configure itself,
> which can be a very good thing.

RPMs do indeed have pre-install and post-install scripts, and many
make good use of them. With many more RPMs available than DEBs, it
is quite natural to find more poorly packaged RPMs. Sad, but true.
However, the .specs are out there and package maintainers are
usually quite happy to take patches.

Some of things that Debian has going for it are that there is a much
more tight-knit community of package maintainers, there are many more
"officially" maintained DEB packages, and there is descent infrastruc-
ture in place to report and fix bugs in packages.

Many RPM packages do tend to be maintained on a more ad-hoc basis.

> DEB files are, as best I can recall, actually .tar.gz files with a different
> ending (internal format, thought, is .tar.gz).

And, again, RPM is cpio format and can have the components extracted
just as easily as a tar file.

> DEB files simply include some extra files to allow Debian's package manager
> to figure out how to install a program.

Both DEB and RPM have very similar facilities from a package
management and dependancy checking standpoint. Most of the
differences that you will find relate directly to the skill
of the package maintainer.

> As a result, my personal preference is Debian.  While it took me several
> days to download all the new packages (over a modem), I was able to do so,
> and complete an entire system upgrade, without a new CD, without
> reformatting (something I did EVERY time I upgraded RedHat), without
> breaking anything.

I'm completely confused as to why you reformatted after every
install. This system has been running Red Hat since 3.0.3
without ever being reformatted. I've added new drives and
migrated the OS over from HD to HD as I upgrade, but don't
ever recall having reformatted for an OS upgrade.

One of the downsides to RPM that must be addressed now is that
there are now *many* RPM based distributions, many having
completely different dependancies (as we noted with a recent
Mandrake install). This is something that DEBs are not likely
to face any time soon. The user must be careful to download
RPMs for his/her distribution. Trying to install an RPM created
on a Suse system on to a Red Hat system isn't likely to work
really well.

Rob Riggs
Technical Staff
Tummy.com, Ltd.

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