[svlug] Maintaining systems without certain problematic packages (was: BAFUG)

Sanatan Rai sanatan at gmail.com
Thu Jan 1 09:22:27 PST 2015

On 1 January 2015 at 04:18, Rick Moen <rick at svlug.org> wrote:

> Sanatan Rai wrote:
> > But then the `alternative' is plain: a *clean* Linux distro that doesn't
> > make it mandatory to use freedesktop.org cruft. Aren't there any? Seeing
> > Debian `sell out' to this particular evil *is* a bit of a blow though.
> I'll start by acknowledging the quotation marks indicating that you're
> speaking figuratively, not literally accusing anyone of misdeeds.  That
> being said, the immediate resort to moral condemnation, and in other cases
> to outright conspiratorial[1] thinking, long ago gave this subjecct a bad
> name.
> Distro package maintainers aren't out to push some sinister agenda.
> They're
> appying distro policies and compiling in library calls and features they
> believe their users requested.

Quite, figuratively is correct. Having read the discussion on the Debian
lists on the init systems, one would have to be paranoid indeed to claim
that it is
a conspiracy!

> I'm not convinced that minimising this malarkey requires picking a specific
> distro, as there are numerous ways around problems that bear investigation,
> including package-oriented recompiles to create local-variant packages.
> RPM-based distros:
> cd ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/
> rpmbuild -bp mypackage.spec
> cd ~/rpmbuild/BUILD/
> cp existing_directory existing_directory.orig
> cd existing_directory
> find the file you wish to change, modify it.
> cd ~/rpmbuild/BUILD/
> diff -Npru existing_directory.orig exiting_directory >
> name_of_your_patch_file.patch
> cp name_of_your_patch_file.patch ~/rpmbuild/SOURCES/
> cd ~/rpmbuild/SPECS/
> edit the mypackage.spec file to add the definition of
> name_of_your_patch_file.patch and the application of your_patch_file --
> please look in the file to see how that is done.
> rpmbuild -ba mypackage.spec
> For deb-based distros:
> # apt-get source foo
> # apt-get build-dep foo
> # cd foo-nnn
> modify stuff
> # debuild -us -uc foo
> (Above are rough stabs at the process, and untested.)
Bear with me, but why could one not create a distro that uses (say) SysV
init with a `barebones' xserver, and run fvwm2? Could that not avoid
freedesktop.org stuff and systemd entirely? So for example, based on the
approach you outline above, could one not create a Debian-style distro with
`clean repositories', ie with binaries that have no dependencies on systemd
or freedesktop.org packages.

I should stress that my comments should be taken as that of the `ordinary
Linux user', ie someone who uses it as a tool. That is if the naivety of
the last question isn't a sufficient clue!

I find Linux a necessity entirely because one finds the alternatives (BSD
excepted) dreadful and inadequate. I'd switch to something else in a flash
it sucked less. So irritating to see that a lot of decisions seem to be
with the `ordinary user' / 'desktop user' (whatever that means) in mind,
which are a hindrance rather than aids.

On another note, here's what y'all missed by not being at Chez Moen for New
> Year's Eve:
> Hot Cocoa with Saffron Cream
> 1 litre / 1 at milk
> 225 g / 1/2 lb. dark chocolate
> 3 dl / 1 1/2 cup cream
> 1/4 g saffron
> Carefully melt the chocolate and bring it and the milk to a boil, taking
> care to avoid burning either.  Pour into serving cups.  Whisk the cream and
> saffron until it's light and airy.  Spoon it atop the cocoa.  Serves about
> five.

Seems to have been a blast, happy new year!

Sanatan Rai
3, Admirals Court,
30, Horselydown Lane,
London, SE1 2LJ.
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