When you build apps from source, you get to configure, tune and install them just the way you want. But with great power comes great responsibility, right? Now that you have taken control, you are responsible for maintaining the applications as well. No distribution package manager is going to automatically try to update files you created yourself — you have to do it. For that reason, stick with the package manager’s version when you can. Make sure to sign up for the product’s mailing lists or announcements as well as the general security mailings lists so you’ll know when an update is needed.
Leave adequate time to do the install and configure, especially if it is a complex product or you’re not familiar with all of the steps. I mean, how hard can “./configure;make;make install” be, right? Figure two weeks for your first attempt, and maybe an hour or two after that. Okay, two weeks may be a little high, but it never hurts to score some points by coming in under your estimate, right? Start with a few little and non-critical items and build up your debugging and troubleshooting skills. Keep resources like your local Linux User Group and product’s mailing lists and Google handy.
Configure doesn’t always tell you if it doesn’t recognize the parameters you pass. I spent days trying to add the mysqli module to PHP version 4.3.10 before I finally realized that I could issue a ./configure –help and have it tell me there was no such option. Doh.