[Techtalk] Binary or source distribution?
newmans at sonic.net
Wed Oct 22 02:17:58 UTC 2008
Good question. I'm a little confused myself.
Generally file formats like deb and rpm are referred to as packages, not
distributions. To me distribution means an entire linux ecosystem like
debian or fedora. But distribution could refer to the generic
'something that gets distributed.'
Package refers to some format which not only includes files but
information like the email address of the maintainer and package
dependencies - what the package contents need in order to run.
To be package / archive agnostic I usually refer to 'binaries' and 'source.'
Binaries are precompiled, but they don't have to be in an rpm or deb.
There are other package formats, and you could have them in a tar.gz too.
Source could be stored in a tar.gz but it could be something else too.
Whether source has to be compiled depends on what kind of source it is.
C/C++ has to be compiled for the computer to run it. Scripting
languages like perl or python don't because an interpreter translates
the source on the fly. The source doesn't have to come directly from
As an example, you can download source for many if not all debian
packages using 'apt-get source' if you have 'deb-src' repository entries
in the apt config file 'sources.list' .
I guess someone might refer to linux distributions like gentoo, where
you usually compile packages from source, as a source distribution and
linux distributions where you usually download binary packages (like
debian or fedora) as a binary distribution, but I've never heard that.
You can probably figure out which someone means by the context.
Anne Wainwright wrote:
> I feel so stupid asking, but what is the difference? I usually find an answer on Wikipedia, but amazingly no entry on this matter.
> A source distribution is one that you download as a tar.gz from the developer and then have to make and all that stuff?
> A binary distribution is one already compiled and installs ready to run from a downloaded .deb or .rpm format?
> Am I right there?
> While I am making a fool of myself, let's complete the job properly .....
> I keep little notes in kjots of all things linux (like, now, Wim's netstat suggestion). I have never found a similar gnome utility. Am i missing out here? kjots is an interloper in my gnome setup, but I like it even if the format looks a little out of place.
More information about the Techtalk