[techtalk] Package managers, was: X in Corel vs. Red Hat (was: winmodem sound driver)

Nils Philippsen nils at wombat.dialup.fht-esslingen.de
Fri Dec 17 06:50:50 EST 1999

On Thu, 16 Dec 1999, Laurel Fan wrote:

[Talking about the Debian package manager(s)]
> Of the things specific to the packaging system:
> divert: you can tell the package manager not to touch a file


> old conffiles: dpkg asks you if you want to replace or keep an old
> conffile (or diff them, or suspend dpkg), while rpm just replaces it
> (keeping a backup).

This is not true for recent versions. In recent versions of rpm (3.0.x)
the package maintainer can specify if a config file shall be replaced (the
old one will be moved to *.rpmsave) or not (the new one will get
*.rpmnew). One might ask why people don't get asked which alternative they
prefer -- it has been debated endlessly on rpm-list, but rpm is intended
to be a non-interactive program: no questions.

> dependencies: debs can depend on either a provides or a package name.


> This is just an interface issue, but dpkg automatically removes old
> versions of the same package, wheras with rpm you have to specify that
> you're upgrading.

With rpm you can install multiple versions of the same package (ok those
situations when you want that are rare, but ...). Most people (like me)
always use the upgrade option as it will gleefully install new packages,
too. RPM has an upgrade mode called freshen on which you can throw a bunch
of packages and it will only install those already on the system. RPM puts
lists of packages in the right order, i.e. it will install/upgrade
packages on which others in the list depend first.

> Debian also seems to handle both package upgrades and distribution
> upgrades a bit more smoothly, but this is probably mostly apt. 

Could you specify what you mean with "more smoothly" -- I don't want to
sound hostile, I'm just interested. Hey, I upgraded a running system from
libc5 to glibc with RPM, if that isn't smooth, what else? Admittedly, I
had to reboot to get the glibc version of init running instead of the old 

 Nils Philippsen / Berliner Straße 39 / D-71229 Leonberg // +49.7152.209647
nils at wombat.dialup.fht-esslingen.de / nils at fht-esslingen.de / nils at redhat.de
   The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be
   regarded as a criminal offence.                  -- Edsger W. Dijkstra

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