[ALUG] Newbie Meeting & Repo Question

Mark Rogers mark at quarella.co.uk
Tue Jul 20 12:12:52 BST 2010

  On 14/07/10 21:39, Steve wrote:
> I guess that much of the content of these emails is soo far above my head I
> assumed the meets would be the same.

I've not been to an ALUG meet, but unless they're very different from other 
LUGs then you'll be just fine. There'll be plenty of content that goes over 
your head and plenty that is at just the right level. The same should be true 
here - you'll get long time users getting stuck on weird and wonderful issues 
that you really don't need to worry about, but that shouldn't put you off 
asking your own questions and you should get answers that help.

> To clarify my question about repos, my understanding was that "mostly" linux
> is a core kernel that at some particular point is basically the same, some
> distros use the cutting edge version others stay back a bit.

Yes, but also it's possible to turn different features of the kernel on and 
off so different distros make different choices. An obvious difference might 
be the hardware the kernel is built to support, for example. Most common 
distros (eg Ubuntu) try to support most stuff you might find on an Intel x86 
based system (ie the sort of system that would also run Windows).

> If there's broadly a common basis and one overcomes the packaging
> differences (why can't they all be the same?), and the dependencies work
> themselves out shouldn't the bits basically all work.

Yes, all the bits should just work. Why different packaging systems? History. 
There didn't used to be any packaging system, and different distros developed 
their own. They generally achieve similar things in mostly-similar ways, the 
main jobs being to make sure that when you install any given package that any 
other requirements are installed as well, and then to take care of updates.

With Windows, there are lots of different packaging systems as well but the 
user doesn't generally care, because the issue of dependencies is mostly 
removed by having every package duplicate all of its requirements so it 
doesn't matter if two packages use the same system - they won't try to share a 
common base anyway. Also notice that when you update a Linux system, pretty 
much everything gets updated - try upgrading XP to Windows 7 and see if all 
your other applications also get upgraded to the latest versions. Again this 
is not an issue for Windows users - having an Office 2003 licence doesn't give 
you the right to Office 2007/2010 anyway, so having the upgrades managed for 
you doesn't make sense. But when you look at the whole system management 
capability of systems like apt and yum (and the graphical interfaces on top of 
them) the benefits justify their existence many times over.

With luck, one day someone will come up with a new packaging system which has 
all the best features of the other systems and is sufficiently compelling to 
make all of the main distros feel the need to upgrade to it. I doubt it'll 
happen any time soon, though.

> It comes from not wanting to miss out on stuff it's the same thing that
> leads me to try different distros, Peppermint currently.

I've found over the years that for the most part, if a package is worth having 
it'll be in the repos for your distro and fairly current. There are 
exceptions, but using one of the main distros helps to reduce them.

> Anyways, I didn't really get what the stuff about SFD was, but as I live
> near Syleham that location would get my vote for a meeting.

SFD = Software Freedom Day.

The freedom to use software the way you want, and to modify it if you want to, 
is key to how Linux (and other software, eg Firefox, OpenOffice, etc) have 
developed. SFD is about promoting that freedom.

Mark Rogers // More Solutions Ltd (Peterborough Office) // 0844 251 1450
Registered in England (0456 0902) @ 13 Clarke Rd, Milton Keynes, MK1 1LG

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