Linux/Python Issues

Paul Boddie paul at
Thu Feb 21 13:57:30 CET 2008

On 21 Feb, 13:04, MartinRineh... at wrote:
> re DLing source
> As a "solution" to the problem of wanting a program on my computer, it
> sucks.

It doesn't suck if you're just installing one program, but if there
are a lot of dependencies it can quickly suck, yes. Even with systems
that comprehensively manage dependencies like Gentoo's Portage (and
unlike language-specific solutions such as easy_install and the CPAN
tools) the convenience can become quickly overwhelmed by practical
concerns such as whether your computer has enough CPU time available
to compile all the updates coming in.

>        On Windows I'll DL an install package, "accept" a license
> agreement, click Next a few times (no, I can't make a cup of coffee
> because the minute I step away the "Wizard" will ask a question), ...
> With CNR the commitment is that I CAN walk away. I do not know who
> should be responsible for putting things in the warehouse. I do wish
> that the *n*x community would create some sensible standards so the
> 'our distro doesn't put things where others do' would stop being an
> issue. Looking in "/usr/bin" and its brethren makes "c:\Program Files"
> seem organized.

You aren't supposed to look in those directories. ;-)

There are proposals for application directories such as the one
proposed by the author of ROX Desktop, but on Debian-based
distributions, the "warehouse" is the sum of the available
repositories. I'll agree that the interfaces to the "warehouse" aren't
very good, however: for a while, the Kynaptic application (a simple
version of Synaptic for Kubuntu) was a fairly simple but convenient
tool to retrieve packages, but then the developers got "feature envy"
and added the bloat from Synaptic in order to forge the Adept
application: a tool whose usability is now regarded as suspect even by
those involved in pushing it into Kubuntu in the first place.

I think that the best way of promoting packages would be to adopt a
Web-like paradigm, allowing people to surf around the "warehouse",
presumably like what CNR does now, but just browsing the available
packages from standard repositories (and without all the shopping cart
nonsense). This way, at least users would get their exciting surfing
and downloading experience (although they'd really be selecting, not
downloading as such) whilst not downloading possibly dubious binaries
from arbitrary sites on the Internet. Indeed, alongside the dependency
management, the whole trust aspect of distribution repositories is
arguably their greatest strength, since people continue to believe
that it's alright to just download and e-mail stuff to each other "as
long as my virus scanner is running" - a foolish attitude that caused
numerous problems in at least one environment I've worked in,
presumably because everyone clicked on the "funny program" in the e-
mail message that got sent round.

> re changing distros because apt-get could do the job
> I'll take your words for the superiority of Ubuntu. But I'll not
> change from one problem (can't find the python-devel that
> says I need) to another (installing a new OS). I bought my Linspire
> computer with the OS installed. I've no interest in mastering the art
> of installing Linux. I'm a big fan of KDE, KATE and Konqueror and
> having a dozen desktops for a dozen projects. I do not miss crashes
> and viruses. I do not miss shelling out hundreds of bucks for an
> office suite.

I think you've either got to find the "direct line" to the underlying
repositories (and hope that they're more up-to-date than CNR), or
you've got to face the problem that your distribution isn't going to
provide packages of recent versions of Python and other things. Not
that long ago, I was still happily running a distribution from 2005,
but it was ultimately a case of either backporting steadily larger
numbers of packages, or installing everything from source, and outside
the Python scene there are a number of packages that you really don't
want to be installing from source unless you're willing to make a
large investment of time, with frustration being the most typical

Maybe there's room for a Python backports project for older
distributions, like the proposal for making Windows installers for
third-party extensions, but this requires a certain amount of
infrastructure and isn't a one-person job.


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