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Grand Unified Dependency Checker

For all those Unix package problems
(+1, -1)
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I can't use Linux. This is because each time I've tried to install it I have run into endless hours of installing packages to support packages to support programs to support installers to support drivers to install packages to use. There has always come a point weeks after the initial install when I am still trying to get it to run when I have realized that X-nix is a hobby, not an OS.*

There should be a single, unified X-nix dependancy list server, containing all hardware and software requirements, limitations, and dependancies. Every disribution should have to be registered on and use this dependancy list. No X-nix software should be taken seriously until the step of registering its dependancies has been taken.

In my not-so-humble, and not-so-informed opinion, this would solve most of the usability problems X-nix has.

*your results may vary. please don't hurt me

Voice, Sep 19 2007

Package Management http://en.wikipedia...e_management_system
"In such a system, software is distributed in packages, usually encapsulated into a single file. As well as the software itself, packages often include other important information, such as the full name, a description of its purpose, the version number, vendor of the software, checksum information, and a list of other packages, known as dependencies, that are required for the software to run properly. This meta-information is typically entered into a local package database." [zen_tom, Sep 19 2007]


       Debian (a flavour of linux) approaches this with a package manager, which (I'm pretty sure) is pretty good at knowing which bits of software depend on which other bits.   

       The requirement for software to fit into this documented system means that Debian systems can be a little behind the curve when compared to more aggressive builds, but you want a reliable OS, not a racing car - so in practical terms, this shouldn't really pose a problem.   

       On Mac OS X, I found something called 'fink' that provides a similar level of support.   

       Both take a little getting used to, but assuming you have a system that you've managed to connect to an internet, the rest is pretty much plain sailing.   

       Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd guess this falls under consumer advice?
zen_tom, Sep 19 2007

       I don't think it's consumer advice. It's more like a new model for installer packages where they'd do a recursive walkthrough of some sort of dependency tree before installation, rather than the traditional method where you get halfway through installation of package A which fails because package B is needed. You download B and install it, but this fails because C and D are needed too, etc., etc.
hippo, Sep 19 2007

       My (albeit limited) experience with Debian and Fink, is that this recursive checking is exactly what they do.   

       The downside is that if you want to install something outside of the official list of maintained software, you're on your own.
zen_tom, Sep 19 2007

       Yes, just about any Linux distribution has something that at least tries to address that, with varying degrees of success. "apt" has worked well for me, and I have bad, bad memories of "rpm".   

       This is the kind of issue that sucks in inexperienced programmers and chews them up, leaving a trail of bad software: a widespread, but seemingly simple meta-problem solvable by a very fundamental mechanism ("recursion"). In reality, the problems are with the detailed execution of this - how human-readable are the descriptions, how good are the error messages, how easy is it to contribute good information, is the list of release servers that gets shipped with the distribution up to date, do users know where to look, are all the little knobs and switches in the right places, etc.   

       Hippo's point is a subtle and valid one, but not one that the poster makes; for Voice, the difference is between an automated mechanism and a manual one.   

       I think this is a mix of "widely known to exist" - any system administrator would be able to tell you about recursive dependency resolution - and a "let's all" (use the *same* mechanism).   

       [marked-for-deletion] widely known / let's all   

       As for that solving "most of the usability problems *nix has" - keep chasing that rainbow.
jutta, Sep 19 2007

       First of all, you wouldn't be using a computer, whatever you're using, if it weren't for some flavor of "*nix". You damn sure wouldn't be posting to something called "the web".*   

       Using Debian with apt makes this a breeze. Ubuntu may be even easier. Red Hat and SuSE also have pretty decent package managers.   

       For the most part that's all you're going to need. Yeah, eventually you may want to untar something and compile from source, but you won't need to do so. By the time you get to that point, you should be able to figure it out from there.   

       *please don't call my job a hobby.
Noexit, Sep 19 2007

       Noexit, I've tried red hat, yellow dog, and SuSE, all with the same problem. I want to use it, I really do, but this stiuation makes it impossible for me. I really doubt that if a nerd with many years of IT experience like me can't do it, the package systems are fine. And why the hostility?   

       Jutta, what hippo said. Surely no _unified_ checker exists, so this is not widely known to exist, nor is it a lets all.
Voice, Sep 20 2007

       As [zen_tom] mentioned, the "Aptitude" package manager used in Debian seems to do a recursive walkthrough. But it is not unified, and does not consider hardware dependencies.   

       I also dispute the "widely known" and "let's all". Pastry for you.
ed, Sep 20 2007

       Voice - I was in exactly the same position as you - I didn't want to have to fiddle about with *everything* in order to get *anything* to work (I'd been trying to install RedHat, gave up, tried SuSe, gave up, turned to Mandrake before learning it was invented by someone French - and finally, somehow, stumbled upon Debian - at the core of which, is this clever little package thing.   

       It gives you a list of options, that you switch on or off. In switching something on, Debian knows that you have to switch on a whole bunch of other things too, and does so automatically.   

       The last time I tried to switch on my Debian machine, I'd switched from a CRT monitor to an LCD one - something that (for some reason) the Debian machine doesn't like. Worse, I forgot all my passwords (they were all particularly fiendish) so I probably wouldn't be able to log in anyway.   

       I tell you this to give you a clue as to exactly how much of a technical clutz I really am - yet one who can now honestly claim to have installed linux whilst hanging out with actual geeks.
zen_tom, Sep 20 2007

       Unifying anything is a let's all. (Everybody should use the same thing.)   

       Here's why: People like to complain about differences between instances of the same thing a lot - it's easy to discount the benefits of variety and competition if one is confused and annoyed by unfamiliar interfaces and functionalities. But the reason it isn't unified isn't that people haven't tried (just about everybody who makes something thinks that theirs should be the ultimate winner, right?). If the only difference between a halfbakery invention and the existing situation is that the invention is vastly more successful, and I'm not actually getting a strategy how or why - that's kind of boring to read, in the long run.   

       Since at least some people think that this isn't widely known, we can leave it up - but, really, go use apt-get.
jutta, Sep 20 2007

       //Noexit, I've tried red hat, yellow dog, and SuSE, all with the same problem//   

       The commonality there is rpm. If you still want to try Linux, and it sounds like you do, give Debian with apt a whirl.
Noexit, Sep 20 2007

       If the hypothetical omniscient dependency checker existed, it would reject you. Most Linux installations depend on having someone to provide plenty of TLC.   

       On the other hand recent Ubuntu installations pretty much rock.
regehr, Sep 21 2007

       *Most Linux installations depend on having someone to provide plenty of TLC.*   

Voice, Oct 18 2007


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