[CentOS] You didn't give me some packages, so now I'm giving you some! R, TexLive, LyX, Gnumeric, etc.

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 29 00:34:31 UTC 2008

On Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 6:39 AM, Brent L. Bates <blbates at vigyan.com> wrote:
>     You might want to check out Scientific Linux:
>                https://www.scientificlinux.org/
> They include a number of things that CentOS doesn't, like `R'.  I don't know
> if or how many of the other items you are looking for are on their site.  Just
> check them out for yourself.  They seem to try to be more up to date on some
> things than CentOS.  I hope this helps some.

I tried Scientific Linux and found I had to re-build the same things
that I rebuild for CentOS, including R, because their versions lagged
behind the cutting edge.  I switched to Centos hoping that the larger
user community would generate more contributions of updated packages
for other things, like gnumeric or such.  So far, that's not panning
out, but I still  have hope.  I am trying to find my way into the
rpmforge rpmrepo or rpmfusion or whatever it will be called.

You can compare the stuff I had to build with it


and it is basically the same stuff I had to build for Centos:


For Scientific Linux, I even had to build Firefox, which required
rebuilding yelp.

Maybe people will find this thread and suggest I try the Debian
off-shoots, like Ubuntu or Mint.  I've been doing that too.

I'm running Ubuntu on my laptop and it is closer to what I need than
Fedora or CentOS. It has a slower-changing kernel than Fedora, but
more up-to-date applications than Centos.  However,I am not installing
it  in our labs or on public machines because I find it harder to
secure.  On a workstation that I use personally, it is OK.  For
someone making the switch from Windows to Linux, Ubuntu may be the
preferred option.  But in a lab or on a widespread basis, there are
some things that hold me back.

1. The basic install of Ubuntu is less security conscious.  There's no
firewall in the default installation. (That is justified on the
grounds that no public services are offered in the default
configuration. The default iptables framework allows everything.
However, users can easily install services, without realizing that
there is no firewall.)  It doesn't (by default) secure the bootloader
with a password.  I noticed that default users have more privilidges
in Ubuntu than Fedora (they can use fuse file system).  Without having
a comprehensive knowledge of Ubuntu, I'm not sure how many other
"gotchas" are waiting. Maybe I've not found the CentOS gotchas yet.

2. It includes too many invitations to ordinary users to add/remove
packages. If somebody tries to run something that is not installed,
the shell replies "you can install that if you type sudo apt-get
install xyz".  They can't do that, they don't have privileges.  The
Applications menu has an add/remove package program.  I don't want
users to be asked to do things for which they don't have privileges.
The whole design of the package manager is to not be automatic, but
ask for constant user intervention.  Not good with many machines.

3. I do not have as much faith in the deb packaging process.  For me,
this the biggest reason I'm hanging around in the RPM distributions. I
learned RPM building from the classic Maximum RPM, which is emphatic
about keeping the 'pristine source code.'  If you have never built a
Debian package, you will will be in for a surprise.  You can't even
build a Deb package unless you manually untar the source code and
create a directory inside it.  My experience is that it is much harder
to rebuild a debian package than it is to rebuild an SRPM.  Most of
the time, if you find an SRPM and you want to build it on your system,
it is as simple as "rpmbuild --rebuild whatever.src.rpm".   I can't
find anything comparable to that for Debian.  It is always necessary
to open up the source package.

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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