[Beowulf] A press release

Tim Cutts tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Wed Jul 2 01:45:21 PDT 2008

On 2 Jul 2008, at 6:06 am, Mark Hahn wrote:

>>> I was hoping for some discussion of concrete issues.  for instance,
>>> I have the impression debian uses something other than sysvinit -
>>> does that work out well?
>> Debian uses standard sysvinit-style scripts in /etc/init.d, /etc/ 
>> rc0.d, ...
> thanks.  I guess I was assuming that mainstream debian was like  
> ubuntu.

It's sort of the other way around.  Remember that Ubuntu is based off  
a six-monthly snapshot of Debian's testing track, which is why Hardy  
looks a lot more like the upcoming Debian Lenny than it does like  
Debian Etch.

> interesting - I wonder why.  the main difference would be that the  
> rpm format encodes dependencies...

The difficulty is that many ISVs tend to do a fairly terrible job of  
packaging their applications as RPM's or DEB's, for example creating  
init scripts which don't obey the distribution's policies, or making  
willy-nilly modifications to configuration files all over the place,  
even in other packages (which in the Debian world is a *big* no-no,  
that's why many Debian/Ubuntu packages have now moved to the conf.d  
type of configuration directory, so that other packages can drop in  
little independent snippets of configuration)

I have seen, for example, .deb packages from a Large Company With  
Which We Are All Familiar which essentially attempted to convert your  
system into a Red Hat system by moving all your init scripts around  
and whatnot, so once you'd installed this abomination, you'd totally  
wrecked the ability of many of the main distro packages to be updated  
ever again.  Oh, and of course uninstalling the package didn't put  
anything back the way it had been before.

Like you, I tend to use tarballs if they are available, and if I want  
to turn them into packages I do it myself, and make sure they are  
policy compliant for the distro.

So this, while not a statement in favour of either flavour of distro,  
is definitely a warning to be very wary of what packages that have  
come from sources other than the distro itself might do (which of  
course, you'd be wary of anyway for security reasons).


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