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Re: Back to RedHat

On Thu, 24 Sep 1998, Bob McElrath wrote:

> On the diversity of packages issue, I agree, diversity of packages is
> good.  But it just seemed to me that everyone is trying their hardest
> to get every package under the sun into the archive, without worrying
> about whether they work or install properly. (lesstif, gtk being the
> biggest culprits).

i have nearly all GTK and GNOME packages installed. except for the odd
app that doesn't quite work (not surprising, GNOME is alpha software
after all), i haven't had any problems. while one or two apps may fail
to do anything useful when run, they have all installed correctly and
without causing any damage to the libraries or other parts of the

ditto for lesstif. it's a library. it installs correctly. some apps
use it, and run reasonably well. the behaviour of lesstif and that of
"real" Motif 1.2 is different sometimes. this is normal....eventually,
apps that care about that difference will end up with #IFDEF LESSTIF ...
#ENDIF conditionals to cope with the differences, or lesstif will be
patched to correct it's faulty behaviour. again, this is normal.

> As I recall, there were several "sets" of preselected packages.
> Workstation, network server, print server, etc...  I needed
> functionality from several of these, and had to select packages by
> hand. *that's* where the difficulty started.

the pre-selections thing allows you to select multiple sets. it's a
good system...the only reason i don't use it is that i have been using
dselect for years and prefer to (tediously and painstakingly) select
each individual package - that way i get exactly what i want, nothing
more and nothing less.

i.e. the pre-selection thing is a short cut, dselect is more of a
"precision tool". :-)

> gnome has its gtk libs (which it depends on). gtk1.1 is there too.
> selecting just one of them was a pain since anytime I selected any
> package that depended on gtk it brought up the annoying little help
> screen followed by dependency info.  I'd suggest only bringing up
> *unresolved* dependency info.

that's what dselect does. it only brings up unresolved problems for
you to resolve. once you resolve them, they go away (unless you select
something which causes a different conflict)

dselect is certainly NOT the easiest program to learn. in fact, learning
it is probably the hardest thing about debian. in its favour, though,
is the fact that it does work and it works well.

dselect is difficult (but not impossible) to learn. IMO it is worth the

eventually, we'll have the user interface side of apt completed (both X
and text-mode versions) and then we'll be over the UI problems. in the
meantime, either use apt and/or dpkg from the command-line, or learn how
to drive dselect.

> > Ahh... Here it is again... I think I've said enough about this
> > issue... Use M$ if you don't like freedom of choice... Even RH/SW
> > have a lot of packages.
> Maybe I should reword that.  Whittle down the number of packages in
> the *base*.  Put the rest in contrib.

debian's "contrib" is not like redhat's "contrib".

in redhat, "contrib" is random stuff packaged by random people on the
net (often with no adherence to technical standards or distribution
policies). the result is a risky "lucky-dip": some good stuff in there,
but usually not.

debian's "contrib" section is maintained by registered debian
developers, using the same standards and policies as they do for any
other debian package. the *ONLY* difference between packages in "main"
and "contrib" is that contrib packages are Free Software which depends
upon non-free software, while packages in "main" don't have any such

> > As he said, this is also worked on. The apt crew have done quite a
> > nice piece of software here, and it's being continusly improved...
> Hmmm...I selected it when I installed, but it didn't get installed...I
> tried to run it once or twice... ???

install apt. then run dselect and choose "apt" as the Access method
(first option on the dselect main menu). or run "apt-get" from the
command line.  or both.


PS: try the debian-user mailing list if you run into problems with debian. 
one of debian's strengths is a large and helpful user community. 

craig sanders

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