October 22, 2007 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

One of the things I love about Linux is learning about all the different package mangers. It is so cool to see how the same problem is tackled in hundreds of different ways, and even how those different solutions are applied differently.

Many people think that a program is not a package manager unless it can keep track of dependencies. (Just never say that to a Slackware user 😉 ) If your distribution keeps a centralized package repository dependency tracking really isn’t too much more convienient than using a package manager that doesn’t track them. There are only a few instances when dependency trackers have the advantage.

The biggest advantage of dependency tracking package mangers (abreviated DTPMs) is abstraction. You don’t have to know or care what a program needs to run. All you need to know is the name of the program and everything else is installed. This is great for novice users and a nice time saver for power users.

The next biggest advantage of DTPMs is with dependency heavy applications. (*cough * MPlayer) These applications are also those that have several dependency’s depencencies that need to be tracked down or very modular programs like X11. After a certain number of dependencies the command to install an application becomes error prone. There is also the need to visit several web pages to find out the dependencies of a dependency.

Once you have a working system the need for a DTPM decreases as time goes on. The more packages you install, typically the more dependencies you install and therefore less are packages need to be installed later on. Also, once you have a stable working system with most of the apps you use, you really don’t spend too much time installing stuff.


Entry filed under: Linux, Package Managers. Tags: .

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