[lug] a bit tired of updates

Pedersen, Michael J PederMJ at LOUISVILLE.STORTEK.COM
Wed Oct 27 10:36:19 MDT 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> 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.)

Ah, that is something I didn't know.  Thank you VERY much.  I'll admit to
having some poor research into exactly what RPM is, but I did know that it
wasn't .tar.gz, which is what a fair number of people do want (I know that I
prefer it, simply because I know it better).

> 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.

Well, here's where the MAJOR difference comes in: Debian post-install
scripts tend to ask questions.  Sometimes, they ask a LOT of them.
Sometimes, they make people think that just jumping out a 40th floor window
is preferable to answering another question (during an initial install :).
Anyway, I've never seen an RPM ask a single question about configuring
itself.  Despite their sometimes overuse on Debian, I prefer to have that
done upfront, rather than reconfigure afterwards.

> > 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.

Once you know what the format is, yes, just as easy.  Without knowing it,
though, it's noticeably more confusing (as evidenced by my previous post).

> > 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.

This, again, was a result of my misunderstanding of the differences between
the two package formats.  As I understood it, the information being
extracted was stored in the RPM, as a data block, and not as a separate file
inside of an archive of files. As such, my statement should have read
something like this (even though the following is wrong):

DEB files include extra files inside of them which control the package
configuration and installation, while RPM files use a data block which does
the same.

Again, while wrong, that's the message I was trying to get across (and
failed badly at).

> 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.

Well, part of the reason is due to hard drive reconfiguration (ie:
repartitioning, replacement, etc). The other part is that RedHat's upgrade
process has never been entirely trusted by me.  And still a third part is
that I didn't believe I could ever muddle through enough of the dependencies
to successfully update the configuration of the system without trashing it
anyway.  And a final part is because I know that Debian, when it encounters
a config file already in place, will ask me what to do with it.  RedHat, as
far as I've ever seen, will simply overwrite it, tossing the old information
away entirely.

> 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.

That is another issue entirely, and one that I'm sorry to see happen.
RedHat was my favorite for a while, but because of the reasons above, I
never felt entirely safe when upgrading.  And I'm sure most people will
agree that upgrading pretty regularly is a nice feeling.  That was the
reason for looking at other distributions at all.  Debian seems very nice to
me to maintain and work with, while RedHat seems more difficult.  Then
again, this may be due to my lack of knowledge of some of the update tools
and procedures which should be used under RedHat.

For now, I'll stay with Debian.  It gives me the flexibility I want, without
the headaches of dealing with upgrades in the ways that RedHat does.  I did
try to upgrade from 5.1 to 6.0 manually, and it sucked.  Badly.

Anyway, thank you for your information, I found it very helpful.

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