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Linux Cookbook by Carla Schroder

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Chapter 2. Installing and Managing Software on RPM-Based Systems

Introduction

Installing a Linux distribution is quite easy these days. Pop in a CD-ROM, make a few configuration choices, then go enjoy a cup of tea while it finishes. Modern Linuxes have excellent hardware detection, install quickly (typically in 30 minutes or less), and require no more than a single reboot.

Source-Built Systems: The Olde Way

Maintaining a Linux system has also evolved tremendously. Packages and intelligent dependency resolvers mean that keeping a system updated and patched is now easier and less error-prone. Today’s youngsters have it so easy. We didn’t have CD-ROMs in the primitive olden days of computing—instead of broadband, we had a station wagon full of floppy disks. To get new programs, us old-timers had to unpack laboriously downloaded tarballs, or copy them off floppy disks, then compile the programs from source code. Dependency problems? Why, us old geeks handled all those things without help from any fancy-pants dependency resolvers. It went something like this:

               # tar -xvf someprogram.tar
               # ./configure
               # make

The make failed, because of unresolved dependencies. So the next step was to download a tarball containing the program with the required libraries, which took six hours over a 300-baud modem. You know, the kind with the rubber cup that fits over the phone. I passed the time by going outside and planting a garden. I came back inside when the download was finished, unpacked the new tarball, ...

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