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Linux Gazette: Simple Package Management With Stow

Feb 08, 2002, 16:01 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Allan Peda)
"When running a single box with tried and true software, tracking the versions of software that you use may be a no-brainer. That is to say, you use whatever Red Hat, Debian, or Sun provided (yes, I will touch on non-Linux issues here) if you could find or build the necessary package. But wait: what if you have been running the same machine for years and you simply must have the latest Emacs? What if you are developing your own software and don't want to create RPMs, or Debian dpkg each time you pause at a version? What if you don't trust that software package written by a 14 year old in that far away country with an unstable government? In short, what if you are heeding Obi-Wan Kenobe's advice, and using the source? How do you make it easy to rip out those configuration files, man pages, binaries, and libraries that you may want to replace in the future?

Well, when you think about it a little bit, Unix has sort of provided the raw materials to do that, in the form of a symbolic link or symlink . Symlinks are a powerful tool because they allow you to configure software so that its implementation does not necessarily connect directly to it's interface (sound familiar?). I might be playing a little loose with the definitions, but that really is what is being done when, for example, postfix mimics sendmail. The implementation, that is postfix, is presenting the same interface as sendmail, which has become a de facto standard interface to the Unix mail transport agent (MTA)."

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