Linux Chronicles, The Chicken or the Egg...

Well, I spent several hours yesterday playing around with the CD disk full of Linux software from the Linux Format magazine I bought recently.

Well, I typed a lot of ./configure , make , su -c "make install" . I even got to install one RPM. But I found out that, for this collection of cutting edge new software, it isn't so easy to install.

There were all kinds of dependencies I couldn't resolve so easily. My favorite was on an XScreensaver program, after typing ./configure, I got a message that my machine didn't have " bc" , which I was informed had been a part of Unix sine the 1970's, so my "distribution should get a clue". Go figure...

I tried to install CoolRay, PyQt, and several other programs unsuccessfully. Curiously, although I began by getting frustrated, I actually became intrigued and maybe even learned a little. I feel deep down inside that if I really wanted to run any one of these programs, I could get it successfully installed if I kept at it.

It certainly helped that I did successfully install the Python 2.2 upgrade (I had been using the Python 2.1 that came with my Mandrake distribution), a program called Pychecker that checks Python programs for subtle errors, a Python wizard for doing GUI designs, and a 3.0 version of the GCC compiler.

Heck, the GCC 3.0 took so long to install, I became fascinated by the messages scrolling across my screen. It is a miracle it installed correctly, what a complex process! And what a larger process that resulted in the GCC being created and maintained!

I don't know what it means that I got a few programming tools installed correctly and nothing else. But I'll take what I can get!

Look, I think this exercise illustrates that installing software on Linux still needs to improve. This is not good enough for the general public. Myself, I kind of like it for now. I'm learning.

Ron Stephens
February 18, 2002