Slashdot readers debate the pros and cons of Building A Better Package Manager. As a newbie, I can say I’m certainly frustrated with the experience of trying to install packages on my Linux machines.
I spent some time today installing Python 2.3.3 and wxPython on my development workstation. First, because I’m still afraid of breaking something, I tried downloading the precompiled binarys in RPM (RedHat Package Manager) format, and clicking on them in the Nautilus graphical shell to install them. Dialogs cheerfully appeared and disappeared, progress bars filled, and then,… nothing. Presuming that no news was good news, I try running, and no, version 2.2 is still installed. Grrr. Many fumbles later, the RPM command informs me the package is not installed. I knew that. I wish I had been told, however.
So, I attempt the dreaded “building from source.” This involves downloading the source code for the package (typically C code) and running through a series of steps to properly configure it for your system and compile it. Python turned out to be a piece of cake: 3 commands (./configure, make, make install) fill the terminal window with inscrutable stuff, but eventually seem to complete successfully. Bravo to the team that put that together!
wxPython was a little more challenging. The readme file was a bit more intimidating, as the ethusiastic author wanted to make sure I understood more options than I was comfortable with. I’m about halfway through that process now, and while the stuff flying by in the window looks okay to me, we’ll see how the process comes out…