Do Package Managers Spoil Us?

I thought of this interesting question the other day while messing around with Slackware 9.0 which was one of the last versions of Slackware to come on a single disk. The goal was to try to take a Slackware 9.0 install to the most recent stable and it was almost accomplished. Glibc was the largest hassle…and I made it to Slackware 11.0 before something caused things to not boot at all. All things considered, I spent 3 days on trying to get Slackware 9 to current.

Slackware for those of you that don’t know, has no dependency resolving package manager. Previously, a good attempt was made with swaret and that was my first jump into package managers with dependency resolution all together when it came out…but Swaret is no longer being maintained and doesn’t really work well anymore.

Since Slackware has no real dep resolving package manager…it’s one of the last ‘true’ Unix like Linux versions out there. Back in the early to mid nineties…things were exactly like this. If you wanted to update your Linux version…you stepped through it manually and tried to get things to work. What was great about Slackware was making your own Slack packages with source…no dependency resolution but in the process of making the package you’d have all the dependencies eventually installed. In this entire process, you became VERY familiar with your system…how it booted, what run level things occurred at, how cron jobs worked, etc. You were baptized by fire so to speak…you were to sink or swim.

As I said, this got me thinking…do we rely on dependency resolving package managers TOO much? They’re cliché now of course…run of the mill. Back in the 1990’s though rpm was the only true package management system around…and rpm was never designed for internet consumption. The guys who wrote rpm had in mind CD and floppy upgrades. Fast forward to now and we have zypper, pacman, urpmi, deb, and conary…all built with online repositories in mind. Do these managers take the heavy lifting away for new users? Do they spoil them?

Do systems break less with easier resolutions due to package managers? Does it mean that the new user of today won’t be as experienced as the old user of yesterday?

I think it might.

Users in the past had to chip away and reassemble with less documentation and no package manager. This meant that the user of yesterday ripped apart systems and packages to discover how they worked and which cogs fit where.

The user of today follows step by step instructions and the software is given a sane set of defaults by most package developers when said package is installed.

Does this make for lazy users?

I don’t think users are lazy per se…but as previously stated, spoiled ones. And it’s no fault of their own…it’s the direction the software has taken us. Now the questions we need to answer are:

  1. Is this direction the correct direction we should be heading?
  2. Are there better approaches to package management that don’t follow the model we have currently (other than Conary)
  3. Can we come up with a system that doesn’t make new users spoiled?

I think I’m of both worlds…I started off with no package manager but managed to ride the wave of Red Hat 7.2 and above followed by Mand{rake,riva} and PCLinuxOS. I’m both spoiled and unspoiled. I know what it takes to manage a system without a conventional package manager but I also know how much time it can save me to use one. I sometimes find myself wanting less though…less and more. Less time and more hands on gutting the system. I think I’m in the minority though.

How about you, as a reader of this article? Do you think new users are spoiled by conventional package management systems? Do you see solutions or have ideas we can discuss? Is this really just a process we can improve or is there any programming to be done? Please sound off in the comments section!

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

  • Tom Everitt

    Interesting thought. I entered the linux world just about a year ago, and I doubt whether I would have gotten very far without apt-get. So in that sense I must say package managers are a good thing. In fact, they might be (one of) the main advantages of linux systems.

    At the other hand, the idea behind gnu/linux is in a way that the users are also the developers. And the step to start fixing bugs in the system is of course drastically smaller if you have a good sense of the relations between different packages. In that sense the abstraction of package managers is negative.

    Personally, it was as much curiosity as anything else that made me learn of linux. And I believe that as I grow too comfortable in my linux environment (and get enough free time) I will move on to a “harder/purer” distro, like slackware, gentoo or arch. That way I will learn about the system when I’m ready for it.

  • Jack

    What’s wrong with making a system that allows users to be lazy? So long as the laziness is secure and sustainable. XD That’s part of what I love about Linux, it’s pretty much zero-maintenance, even when you’re careful about maintaining it.

    Nice post, I totally know what you went through.

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      Oh I agree…I’d rather have an apt or yum system in a heartbeat…it allows me to get a server up and running in half the time it used to.

      I just wonder if the users we’re cranking out are far less likely to solve their own problems and be ‘as knowledgeable’ as users used to be.

      • CorkyAgain

        Are people who drive cars they don’t know how to repair “spoiled”? How about people who don’t know the first thing about how their TV or their microwave works? Or their clothes washer and dryer? The copier at the office?

        Knowing how to fix everything you use is admirable, but very few people can truthfully claim to have achieved it.

        Computers, and the operating systems that run on them, have become commodities. This means they are going to be used by people who don’t know or care *how* they work, but only *that* they work.

        The problem, as I see it, is when these same users expect the more knowledgeable users to fix their systems for free.

        — or when they expect that you’ll be able to teach them in a few minutes (or at most an afternoon) what it’s taken you years to learn. As one of my coworkers used to say, “There are no shortcuts to the right-hand side of the learning curve, but many people seem to think otherwise.”

        It’s isn’t a lack of knowledge that makes them “spoiled”, it’s whether they combine their ignorance with an unrealistic set of expectations.

        • Brian Masinick

          I firmly believe that creating systems that are extremely easy to install, maintain, and use is the only wise way to make computer systems truly usable and a utility. So many of us have wanted that all along, but the closer and closer we get to it, the more and more some of us become reluctant with it because we realize what we may be missing.

          I suppose some auto mechanics feel the same way. With the computer chips controlling nearly every aspect of the automobile operation – braking, fuel system, climate control, ride and handling, the list goes on, what dealerships and manufacturers really want is 100% control so that to service them you must work with them – and that is where some people object.

          In the free software movement, no matter how removed and how abstract things become, if you are intent enough, you can go all the way back to Linux From Scratch, if you truly want to know any aspect of the system. An extremely small number of us have the time to devote to that degree of knowledge, and for those that do, it may as well become your primary source of employment and income, because it will consume virtually all available time.

          What I am getting at is that software freedom is good, but let’s not keep it so that from a usability standpoint it must be complex. Let’s make the default usability really easy. Let the underlying code become more complicated when it must, though when we can simplify, yet keep it extensible, that is good.

          I will always prefer good package management. I can still select kernel modules and compile my own kernel when I really HAVE to do so. Once every five years or so I do so, just to keep it in my bag of tricks. Other than that, what’s the point? I have larger “fish to fry”, in other words, I have other things to do. Package management tools, well constructed system management utilities, and other tools save time and energy. To me that is what a computer is for, to save time and effort. Otherwise, if that is no longer the case, then I am no longer interested in it and would rather move on to something that has a greater utility value to people. Fortunately, I believe that the ecosystem is becoming more usable – the Android movement in smart phones points to one such movement that people from all walks of life can use, and I think that is good.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Do Package Managers Spoil Us? | Yet Another Linux Blog -- Topsy.com()

  • James

    It has been a few years since I have been a regular Slackware user (although I have been thinking about giving 13.1 a good run, once it is released), but the last I knew ‘slapt-get’ was the commonly used, dependency-resolving package manager that many people use. I used slapt-get for a few years, and it worked well for me.

    I believe increasing adoption of slapt-get is what eventually lead to swaret’s demise.

    I have also wondered whether or not there might be something to the question you are pondering. As an entry level (if not sub-entry level) sysadmin, I have been recently trying to learn the ropes of installing and maintaining Gentoo. Gentoo would likely not be my disto of choice — especially not for laptops and netbooks, and the like — but I believe that spending time with such distributions as Slackware or Gentoo does do a lot to help a person gain a deeper understanding of how a GNU/Linux system is put together. I believe this leads to greater problem solving skills with time, regardless of the distro being used.

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      slapt-get does not resolve dependencies unfortunately…it just installs packages :(

  • joe t.

    “Does it mean that the new user of today won’t be as experienced as the old user of yesterday?”

    Ah yes, the old days of Linux where you had to first of all know that you had to compile all software from source, then know how to do it, then figure out where it belonged in your directory structure, then spend hours or even days chasing other software because some obscure part of what you’re installing depends on that other program, chasing down all that other programs dependencies, and then finally getting back to the original program you wanted only to discover that there’s a version conflict. Well, hope you know how to write patches.

    Oh wait, package managers haven’t solved that (only the compile from source part, and sometimes not even that for the dependencies).

    i’m no Windows apologist coming to slam Linux just because i don’t understand it. i do, actually, and i work with Linux on a regular basis. But the scenario i describe is one i commonly encounter with Linux software.

    i wouldn’t worry about new Linux users being lazy. Linux still makes it pretty hard for anyone to migrate who isn’t truly devoted to making a full time job of figuring out how to get their system working properly.

  • Jordan

    @Joe

    Out of curiosity, what are you running? I’ve run several distros over the past couple of years (server and desktop) and have never had to track dependencies in apt, except in development releases of new software. (The only example that comes to my mind is that ubuntu’s music store plugin didn’t have a dependency listed for a while during the development cycle.)

    Now, I have bypassed the package manager on occasion for some programs, but even then, the package manager made it a breeze to find the dependencies.

  • Patrick EB

    Oh the fun.

    Here I was reading your article. I was also browsing this site:

    http://trombonechamp.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/writing-made-easy-for-young-students-introducing-writetype/

    I decided to install the writetype application using:

    dpkg -i write…blah

    And what happens? A dependency issue!

    LOL

    So ‘Synaptic’ to the rescue (yes there are other solutions).

    Had I ‘Windowed’ it :))) by double-clicking the app and letting Gdebi install it, I’d have been right. No worries.

    What I had been intending to write was that Linus T and RMS recently commented on all the lazy buggers out there who don’t write their own apps and OSs!!

    ;)

    One of the things I love about Gnu/Linux is that over the years it has become less and less necessary to pop the bonnet, strip the alternator and rebuild it. Also I no longer need a hammer to hit the switch box to turn off the spot-lights because the switches have stuck together due to the heat.

    Those were the days .

    However, I *can* do all of that if necessary. I don’t have to pay someone else to do it for me *if I don’t want to*. If I can’t do it, someone can show me or I can pay someone to do it.

    This, in my view, is how it should be. I like to tinker. I like to fix things myself. I like to lift the bonnet and see what’s going on.

    However, some people don’t. If Gnu/Linux advocates inhibit people from using it because they *have* to know these things or are derided (1) in forums because they don’t, then the community does a disservice to the OS and the community itself.

    I’m all for options and I think as long as Gnu/Linux continues to provide those options (the easy and the less so) then for me it is preferable to those that don’t.

    (1) (Devnet: I’m not implying that you are. In fact from what I can see your article is free from such intent)

  • Paul

    You appear to be confusing users with administrators. I teach LFS and Gentoo installation to high school students as we work toward the LPIC-1 and Linux + certs. Once they get a GUI and window manager running, I let them switch to any distro that they please. Keep in mind that these are future network admins, therefore learning Linux is an end unto itself.

    For my mother-in-law, neighbors, parents, co-workers, etc. I give them Ubuntu and run a script that installs all of the goodies (Mint Style). I hope that they will never have to compile anything, because they are users. They aren’t lazy, they simply need their computers to do other things. In this case, Linux is a means to an end.

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      My wife is no administrator…but she updated her linux install using synaptic all the time.

      My point is that she won’t ever learn the true ins and outs of a Linux install because she usually won’t have to jump into the nuts and bolts of an install.

      When I was coming up using Linux, I had to edit rc files, switch init levels, and generally dismantle my entire install. Plus, reinstalling was an all day affair.

      The two are completely different…and users nowadays (not administrators) won’t ever have to experience the level of complexity that was present back then. Does that make them lazy? Perhaps less motivated? Spoiled?

      I’m not sure…maybe less motivated. Spoiled and lazy are strong words that probably don’t fit.

      This I do know…they often expect things to be simple as point and clicking for a solution and that is not always the case…and when something happens that they have to drop to a shell to solve it, they are generally callow and less inclined to want to do anything at that level.

      It’s a shame…

      I wish they’d have that extra experience that would help them not fear the command line.

      • Pierre

        Hi all,

        for me, there are only so many hours in a day. I find Linux very useful for my job as a translator. But I can’t be an expert in everything – I’ll bet you don’t repair your tv either (both from lack of expertise and lack of tools).

        Also to my mind, having to do manually something that the computer can do much faster and in a more thorough fashion is usually a result of bad design.

        Best,
        Pierre.

        • CorkyAgain

          Blaming the failures of package management on “bad design” simply indicates that you don’t fully understand or appreciate the complexity of the problems they attempt to solve.

  • George Harmony

    I think Paul& davnet have hit the nail on the head.

    The users that are turning to Linux now would never have come to Linux had there not been a package manager.

    I also think that if a new user enjoys the challenge of Linux and have the curiosity that would have brought them to Linux years ago they will eventually learn to compile programs from source, compile a kernel and edit the configuration files.

    I can see distros like Arch and Slackware would scare off regular users. In the end I think Package Management is necessary for Linux to become mainstream and without it Linux will be relegated to a geek only operating system.

    Those who advance in it would have found it regardless of a package management system. Those who are just users would have never tried it had package management not existed. Would you choose to alienate them just to keep up the “baptized by fire” mystic of the early Linux days.

  • Alan

    I don’t think you make much of a case for why being “spoiled” is a bad thing. Isn’t the point of pretty much all software development to abstract processes and otherwise make life easier for humans?

    Most certainly, we’re probably less educated these days than the admins of yore; but if we still had to do things this way, I doubt it would mean more educated users. It would probably just mean far fewer users.

    The good news is that it CAN be easy, and yet if we want to learn we can still tear it apart and take the scenic route.

  • Martin F

    Well, package managers or any advancement just made people more busy, not lazy, doing more stuff that have been enabled by these advancements.

    If you have to be a purist and demand everyone to go through certain rituals before using Linux, then you have to require them to start designing a CPU and all the hardware from scratch and manufacture them in a garage, build machine code from assembly, then start building compilers. Then start building everything else from scratch. Heck, why not force them to learn electromagnetic theories behind semiconductors and all the math required to understand the information theories. I’m pretty sure they would have to learn all the world’s languages just to use UTF-8 codes, and master the visual art before even looking at a single pixel of an icon.

    Kidding aside, when things are simplified, more higher-level things to simplify become apparent. That’s how technology advances.

  • http://blog.thrashcardiom.com Thrash Cardiom

    Now the questions we need to answer are:

    1. Is this direction the correct direction we should be heading?

    When was the last time you rebuilt your car engine, or re-ground the valves, or even changed the oil and oil filter?

  • VS Dude

    Linux MUST adopt a lazy user philosophy if it wants to see more market share. Windows has moved beyond DOS (for the most part) and the public has gravitated to it in response. Apple too has (for the most part) successfully walled-off the system’s heart from the user and the end result is people love the “just works” efficiency of the computer.

  • Matias

    The “marketshare” hype must not be the main aim for Linux but reliability and stability. Besides there are some cases when we do have to use terminal for certain software install. Some weeks ago i got problems to install Open Office language-packages with Mandriva package manager. It allways gave me an error msg. But with terminal and “urpmi –auto-update”-command and problem was solved.

  • Relativ3

    In my opinion this isn’t an issue at all.

    When I set up a production (stable) server I prefer to use a package manager (because its easier to maintain the system later) – Of course I’ll keep an eye out for new updates and before I upgrade I’ll look at the communities reaction (egg. Are there any bug reports filled? Are there positive reactions or are they negative?) and of course I’ll check changelogs and new documentation (just to be sure).

    I believe is better to be safe then sorry afterwards.

    Then again building packages from source is another challenge, checking the systems filestructuur (directory’s, file locations, etc).

    I mostly build packages from source when the package in the repositories are outdated or when the package is not available – but before doing so I prefer to closely check my directory paths (depening on which server – which distro, etc) and what dependencies are required.

    I think it all depends on taste. I like to experiment on our ‘sandboxes’ (sandboxes a.k.a testing/development machines).

    Package managers are fun and easy – and compiling packages is fun (sometimes easy too). But mostly it’s educative; you learn from everything you do.

    I would advise anyone to draw their own conclusions.

    Friendly regards,

    Relativ3.

  • CHristopher Osborn

    When I was a teenager in the 90’s, my dad was sure that I would struggle in life because I didn’t know how to fix a car. He grew up in the car generation, when they were simple enough that all the guys knew how to work on them. They also broke down a lot, so you had to understand them.

    But now cars are far more complicated and reliable, so, as of the age of 37, my lack of knowledge about cars has not hindered my ability to function.

    I see this argument to be similar. As someone that grew up in the computer generation, when computers were simpler and you had to know more to operate them, I had to have a better understanding of how they worked. My son doesn’t understand any of this stuff. He’s never had to. And just like my dad, I worry that the knowledge I think is so important is being lost on the next generation.

    • CorkyAgain

      Very insightful comment!

      There always seems to be a sense of loss when something moves out of the specialist or hobbyist world and into the mainstream. Many of us oldtimers are finding it difficult to accept that “personal computing” is no longer what it was in the 80’s or even the 90’s.

  • Chris C

    I can agree with everything everybody has said in one way or another but I think we are all looking at it from a point of view that a user wants to know anything at all about the OS that they are using.

    A PC these days is a tool to do work. While I enjoy getting under the hood and fiddling with things, the purpose of the OS is to allow people to do tasks that they need to do. The OS should be invisible to this process and just provide the framework that lets people do their daily tasks.

    I understand the feeling where we would like people to be more aware and able to fix things themselves but if we’re honest with ourselves, every time a computer gives an error message to a user or they have to delve into command line fixes or changing config files, we, as an IT industry have failed. Things should not break. Ever.

    The car analogy is a good one. Your car should not go wrong, but the world isn’t perfect and so things do. You’re not expected to be able to fix it yourself and you can even end up hurting yourself by trying. There are professionals out there to do this for you.

    So as a professional in the IT world, I’ll strive to make computers that are easy to use, allow people to do all that they require, and never break. I also know that I’ll never achieve this, but the more users we have out there that need help, the more IT Pro’s that we’ll need. Long live the package manager. Long live the ignorant spoiled user. They are our future whether we like it or not, and we are here to help them.

    Chris.

  • http://pcwideopen.com chad hirsch

    I really think that it has to do with time management for me. Yeah I could compile an operating system from source. It would take a while, but i do have the skills to do it.

    However, I would not have the time. I work full-time, own a house, married, and attend school full-time. I don’t really have time to dink around with compiling source code. I need my computer to work, so i can’t use windows reliably(at least without anti-virus and spyware/malware control), so I would rather use linux. Sending my windows-tax instead to various open-source software vendors.

    The package management system gives me the time to be able to use my computer as I need it, keeping it up-to-date along the way. I do plan on compiling the linux source code for a little hobby project I am working on, but, lets face it, compiling doesn’t give us enough benefits as compared to package management. Time is money, and I have neither.

    So yes, I miss the compilation options, that is ok becuase I don’t need my computer to do anything fancy but work, and dinking with source code and hosing the system a few times a month isn’t helpful to that end.

  • http://datastorm.ws mtkoan

    When I started Linux, I began on Ubuntu and Debian. I was utterly enthralled at the ease with which apt-get managed my system and installed new software. I think its a great tool for users, old and new.

    As I began to dig deeper, however, it began to annoy, and began to break my system. I moved to Slackware 13. I’ve been immensely more satisfied with Slackware, and I’ve actually learned (as the author says) the inner workings of my OS, and as a result, am MUCH more knowledgeable about linux — in *all* distros.

    I run a HA Slackware cluster at work with drbd on lvm on md(raid1) for 100 or so users. Its more stable, more reliable and easier to configure for me. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, but that’s just me.

    • http://datastorm.ws mtkoan

      But would I throw an end-user into the Slackware world? No way. Its something I’ve undertaken to learn — and I would suggest to anyone who wants to do the same. Learning Slackware gave me a career, so now I’m a Linux expert *laughs*, though I still feel like total newbie. Like it or not, the Internet and many network systems run on Linux, and it pays to understand it.

      I think Slackware makes a better server if you know what you’re doing. That’s a big if though. I don’t think it will ever be fit for the masses, and dependency-checking package managers are a good thing.

  • Pingback: Links 17/5/2010: Firefox 3.6.4 Build 4, State Services Commission (NZ) Goes for Free Software | Techrights()

  • Grant

    Spoiled, yes, but only in the best way. I have to use Windows at work, and I can’t tell you how annoying it is to not have a package manager. Updates are painful, and application by application, good luck not missing one. Secunia PSI helps, but a real package manager is what I miss.

  • kurtdriver

    Pssst, what to know a secret? They’re appliances today, just as someone above made the automobile analogy, what about TVs? Cell phones? The era you seem to long for was the era of “dependency hell”, aptly named,and I, for one am glad that my mother can use a computer without going through it. If I were to gave her a Linux disc, it wouldn’t be slackware, for sure.

  • http://genomega1.wordpress.com genomega

    Funny post. The effort to make linux user friendly has resulted in corporations and countries to switch from ms to linux. Feel free to stick to the old depends hell if you wish.

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      Did you even read the post? I’m not suggesting we stick to the ‘old way’ of doing anything….it’s not even what the post is about. The post is about education levels of users and how package management effects that level.

    • mtkoan

      To that end, I have to agree that having a dependency-checking package-manager, does prevent folks from learning.

      Also, after year of running slackware exclusively on servers at work, at home, and on a VPS, I’ve yet to experience “dependency hell”. I’m able to resolved dependencies quickly and easily — the compiler makes sure of that.

      Could it be that increased disk-space and decreased disk-space cost makes this way easier these days? I rarely have any issues when installing a package on my Slackware system, 0 depends for most, 1 or 2 for some.

  • Joshua

    When I started out with Linux (~4 years ago), I started with Ubuntu and apt-get/deb (although I did a little playing with Fedora). It worked out well for me, being new and not really knowing what was going on. That was when I was at school and had Internet, then I moved back home on a work term and had no more Internet on my machine. This is when “dependency hell” started for me, since I had to manually track down every little piece of software I need to install something on Ubuntu.

    That’s when I switched to Slackware. Installing it wasn’t that bad, basic configuration of Slackware wasn’t bad either, and installing software seems a lot easier because all of software is either already there or easy to come by on the Internet at work. As another plus, I am enjoying learning about Slackware and Linux.

    So I guess what I took from my experience is, package managers are nice to use if your new and/or if your machine is always connected to the Internet. However, if know you won’t always have Internet access on your machine, a straight-up, fully featured, non-package-managed system such as Slackware is the way to go.

  • DiogenesInNJ

    Well, I don’t write in assembly language anymore either. Can’t say I miss it all that much…

  • http://blog.thrashcardiom.com Thrash Carrdiom

    I started off using Linux back in ’93 or so by downloading 1.44 mb files from a bulletin board, writing them to diskette, then trying to figure out what all these weird packages meant and in what order they should be installed. That was Slackware. I used to compile lots and lots of libraries and programs in order to get new software working, re-compile my kernel on an almost weekly basis,delve through C source trying to track required libraries and so on. I learned a hell of a lot.

    I believe we should all go back to those times as its certainly a good way to learn the nuts and bolts of Linux. It’s the only way to get a real education.

    Seriously, package managers are good. Discovering RedHat and RPM was a revelation to me and RPM isn’t even a real package manager. (In fact, it’s the source of the term “dependancy hell”). Linux is a tool for most people and they don’t need to know the ins and outs to the degree where they should be able to install a program including tracking down/downloading all the required dependencies.

    Certainly some people should be able to do delve into the nuts and bolts of a system in this way but most people don’t need this knowledge and neither should they.

  • CorkyAgain

    To answer the original question: of course package managers are “spoiling us”, in the sense that they’ve made it possible for unsophisticated users to install and use free software. If you take away those package managers you also take away a large segment of growing user community.

    The changes we’re discussing in the computing user community mean that programmers should be putting more emphasis on supportability, defined as the ability to solve the problems an unsophisticated user encounters, and often to do this remotely (i.e., without physical access to the user’s machine.) Things like automatic generation on trace logs, configuration records, and crash dumps, along with easy ways for the unsophisticated user to gather them up and send them in for analysis.

    Aunt Tillie should NEVER be told to get under the hood and start twiddling with the carburetor. Nor should the mechanic need to depend on her ability to accurately describe the ways in which her car is failing. Instead, he should have objective diagnostic tests of his own. Aunt Tillie doesn’t need to know how to interpret the readout from his computer-based diagnostics, she just wants to be told what needs to be replaced and how much it’s going to cost.

    How many software packages, for example, include a set of functional tests that can be used to verify correct installation and operation? Not as many as should.

  • openuniverse

    i think it’s great that some projects have huge repos all their own, that’s better than 1 central repo with single point of failure (which i’m not advocating) but i actually think there should be a project to make a unified repo for MANY smaller distros, with the libre kernel, so they too can offer as much software as say, ubuntu.

    i think this would be a huge step forward, and though it probably wouldn’t lead to a single package manager/package type for everyone, it’s one of the few things that could. not that apt is so bad, maybe it would use deb pkgs. maybe it would use rpm’s – maybe the package type wouldn’t depend on the repo. these are smaller things than you might first think.

  • http://techgoo.net/ Eddie

    I’ve started from Ubuntu Karmic and I must say that the easier they make the system to use the more users they get.
    In my opinion the package managers are just a step forward and it will definitely do a positive impact on the current Linux community.

  • OtterNZ

    Great article and some really great replies here. Some of what I’m saying below gets off topic from the original blog, but relates to some of the comments

    I remember watching Dad spending days sorting out various issues with his Mandrake install in the mid to late 90’s. It seemed like an incredible amount of work he was putting in just to have something that for our intents (home use) was only as useful as Win 95 or 98 which were both a lot easier to get working (even if mandrake was more stable).

    By the time I started getting into the Linux world (around 2004/2005) OS’s were much easier to deal with, and I started with distros that required less behind the scenes work, such as Xandros OCE and Ubuntu. I’ve migrated away from them to other distros such as sidux and AntiX. I’ve never needed to work out my own dependencies, and if it wasn’t for apt-get, I probably wouldn’t be using linux any more.

    Do I have less knowledge about my system than someone that grew up with linux in the 90’s? Yes. Do I have less than someone running something like Gentoo or the above mentioned Slackware? Yes. Am I spoiled? No. The above comments about cars reflect my thinking here. I do still service and repair certain aspects of my car, but leave the more complicated stuff to the experts. Just like with linux I “service and repair” certain problems I have, while I’m glad the rest is dealt with by the “expert” package managers.

    If I was a linux hobbyist I’d probably think I was spoiled with package managers and I’d be using a more complicated distro. But since I want a system that does a lot of the work, and only requires a bit of my input, I’m glad I have package managers to deal with my dependencies and software installation needs.

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      Thanks for sharing! You have a lot of good points in your comment and I think you’re probably right…if anyone is spoiled then they are spoiled by themselves, not the package manager :D

  • http://ledonline.info kickar

    This article is great!!! There are some good replies too!!

    Keep it up guys!

    Cheers,
    kickar
    http://linnewbies.com

  • Brian Masinick

    I replied just a few moments ago to “CorkyAgain” in his comments from May 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm. In essence, I believe that we always need to keep a few people who know the lowest levels of a system. Let me tell you something though. Even in 1998, just before I left Digital Equipment Corporation, we had only one or two people remaining in the organization of the UNIX Engineering Group who could build every aspect of the kernel for every platform we had from the ground up. But even those people probably knew very little, if anything, about the application mix that various people would run on that platform.

    The VMS organization at Digital was even more that way if you consider it. The VMS (OpenVMS and everything that preceded it) grew from both 16 bit and 36 bit system roots, becoming a very robust 32 bit general purpose computing system in the seventies and eighties, then evolving to a “more open” 64 bit end to end multiple operating system (OpenVMS and Digital UNIX) platform (VAX to Alpha) in the nineties. That came and went, too, because other things were less expensive and more prevalent (though the true VAX and Alpha users live on, just as the true Linux users will also live on).

  • James

    Deep blog post bro

    • http://linux-blog.org devnet

      Thanks :)

  • asdf

    I like your point of view.