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Re: A GNU Distribution

From: Dave Crossland
Subject: Re: A GNU Distribution
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2012 19:50:36 -0700


On 2 April 2012 18:43, Daniel Martin <address@hidden> wrote:
> I'd like to be able to
> _easily_ install source code in a predictable location, modify the code,
> recompile and install the new package.

In the 1990s the GNU project delegated the job of making a GNU
distribution using some non-GNU components to the Debian project. (The
GNU project later stopped delegating the job because of a dispute
about non-free software distribution policies, which is how we end up
with a thread like this one, I believe.)

The Debian project developed an Advanced Package Tool, 'apt.' On one
of the many unofficial GNU distribution managed with apt, you can do

$ apt-get build-dep $PROGRAM;
$ apt-get source $PROGRAM;
$ cd PROGRAM/;
$ ./configure;
$ make;
$ make install;

What is not easy about this? :-)

As others have mentioned, there are unofficial distributions of GNU
that started with Gentoo that use the 'portage' package management
system that also makes it easy to install source code in a predictable
location, modify the code, recompile and install the new package;
additionally, it makes it easy to systematize that process so that eg
a single Emacs package can be compiled to integrate tightly with
(only) the other packages installed on the local machine.

I am aware of HomeBrew, a much more recently started package
management system project that works with source code, although it
packages free software for a popular proprietary UNIX operating
system. Perhaps it has interesting features unavailable in any other
source based package manager, but I am not aware of any - or of any
other source based package manager popular today.

So, while I have a neutral opinion about the GNU project making an
official GNU distribution, I personally can think of no reason that a
new package management system would be useful to develop :-)


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