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[libreplanet-discuss] observation re. build systems

From: Miles Fidelman
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] observation re. build systems
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 2015 13:28:27 -0500
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I've recently found myself looking for a new distro for our production servers, and I've noticed something that seems just a bit disturbing:

It seems like documentation of how to install and manage unpackaged software seems to have almost disappeared - i.e., it seems like awful lot of distros seem to assume that EVERYTHING is packaged.

At least in my experience, the reverse is more common:

- developers tend to distribute source, built in their language-specific
development environment, "packaged" for cross-platform building (e.g., a
.tar file created using gnu autotools), or a .jar file, or what have you

- it's pretty rare for developers to package for more than a few,
particularly popular distros (if they package at all).

- when building production servers, it's a lot more reliable to
"./config; make; make install" than to rely on packages for anything other
than utilities and platform stuff

- an awful lot of stuff uses its own dependency resolution mechanisms
and repositories (e.g., perl w/ cpan)

Somehow, this seems broken, and getting worse.  I've noticed this when it
comes to systemd (our production systems rely on several applications that
come with sysvinit scripts, but no other form of startup scripts.  Until now,
we've been using Debian, and all works just fine - looks like I'll have
to do a lot of tweaking for the next platform upgrade - which is what
is motivating my looking around).  But, what with the emergence of several
new platforms (e.g., SmartOS), it strikes me that the approach of
distributing auto-configuring source, looks a lot less brittle than
an assumption that someone is going to package everything, for every

Not sure what can be done, or by whom, but seems like an issue worth raising.

Comments, thoughts?

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra

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