Building a linux system

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Postby nordle » Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:03 pm

nelz wrote:While a fast computer is handy, but by no means essential. I don't understand why you feel broadband is needed. Why does downloading the source require so much more bandwidth than downloading pre-compiled binaries?

However, I wouldn't recommend Gentoo for someone new to Linux.


Surely generally speaking the source code is much larger than the binaries, because by definition it includes loads of code to cover different platforms, loads of white space, its not compiled, it has all options/features available instead of a binary which may be stripped down.

eg Abiword source = 27MB, installed binary package = 4MB

Having said that, in some cases the binaries themselves are larger than the source, because they compile in libraries from other packages installed on the system at compile time, this is sometimes then packaged as a whole package.

But most of the software I've installed, the source was larger than the resulting binary package.

Agreed that Gentoo is perhaps not the best distro to start with, as you don't really learn a huge amount about linux (depends if thats important to you I suppose), but also the resulting speed increase is negligible. From my own patience point of view, the time taken to setup, while interesting, was just annoying after a few hours. If you don't have >=2.6GHZ and >=512MB RAM dont bother..... IMHO :)

I started using Suse 7.0,found it confusing, when things broke, the graphical system control screens, in my mind, didn't lend themselves to problem solving as it made me think "the answer must be here, why is it broken, whats going on". I was also confused by the number of packages for one application, eg 12 for QT.
I used Slackware which I felt made me look at the config files, have a bit more understanding of what was going on, and single package for applications made installing new software seem easier, keeping a system up to date seemed easier.
So I would say Slackware is quite good for newbs, at least I used to, now Im not so sure, not because Slackware is difficult, it isn't, but because maybe big distros like Suse have improved to the point where things dont break every five minutes, so you don't need to know whats going on, the gui tools provided are good enough for most situations.
For new users, I would recommend Ubuntu, Suse and Slackware..... but of course, grabbing as many live cd's as possible can quickly weed out any distros which a user might find grabs their attention immediately or put them off straight away. Saves a lot of installing and then wiping an hour later.
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Postby nelz » Sun Apr 24, 2005 3:22 pm

fingers99 wrote:Well, binary for source package, it doesn't, of course. But there's a shedload of stuff that needs to be downloaded. With Kanoptix or Knoppix, you'll be downloading updated packages (as you would for Gentoo) and a handful of multi media tools at the most.


I think you'll find a Gentoo DVD contains roughly the same number of packages as a Kantonix DVD (do Kantonix do DVDs?).

You don't have to install from source with Gentoo, they provide binary packages too. I installed Gentoo onto my iBook in about an hour, by using the PPC binary CD. Updates are compiled from source, but they take place while still using the computer, so compilation time is not an issue.
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Postby nelz » Sun Apr 24, 2005 3:26 pm

nordle:

You've just shown that you can#t compare the two and come up with a definitive answer. Unpackedsource is larger, but all the white space and repeated strings means the compressed tarball you download is smaller. You'll also find that binary distros generate several packages from one set of source, such as -devel and -doc packages as well as the basic binaries. Even if source is slightly larger on balance, it is certainly not enough of a difference to require broadband.

In fact, for an new installation, the download is often less. To install most distros, you generally download several ISO images containing lots of packages you never install.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby nordle » Sun Apr 24, 2005 4:57 pm

nelz wrote:nordle:

You've just shown that you can#t compare the two and come up with a definitive answer. Unpackedsource is larger, but all the white space and repeated strings means the compressed tarball you download is smaller.


Who said anything about unpackaged, I gave an example of Abiword, the tar.gz source is 27MB, the tgz package is 4MB. Both are compressed using the same method, the compressed source is far larger than the compressed binary package for previously mentioned reasons.

Of course there's no definitive answer, I didn't think we were looking for one, but roughly speaking if your going to install a package as a whole ie ./configure && make && make install then out of the hundreds of sources I've installed over the last year 7/10 you'd want to download the binary package where possible as its much smaller than the source if the download size was critical (99% of stats are made up on the spot ;) ). If you just want the docs, then of course it would be silly to download 27MB source package to get 500k of data too.
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Postby fingers99 » Sun Apr 24, 2005 6:13 pm

do Kantonix do DVDs
Nope. Absolutely not, never, probably never will, not on the agenda. ;-)

It's a mere 700Mb CD using virtually (I believe it has been improved a little) the same compression system as Knoppix. So, 3CDs on one. You want more? Well, Knoppix experimented with a DVD, but it doesn't seem to have gone down that well -- I guess you can have too much of a good thing.
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Postby nelz » Sun Apr 24, 2005 6:17 pm

I didn't say it wasn't larger to download source, just that the difference wasn't sufficient to require broadband to do it.

Tthere is another aspect to the way Gentoo works if you are counting every last byte of bandwidth. When a program is updated, say for a security fix, a binary requires a complete download of the new version. Gentoo caches the source tarballs it downloads, so a security update often only requires a patch to be downloaded.
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Postby nordle » Sun Apr 24, 2005 11:22 pm

Maybe, again depends, 4MB binary @4k/sec = 16 minutes, 27MB source tarball @same speed = 112 minutes

re: gentoo's patch download, I think that the other big distros do this too, when downloading updates for suse 9.2 it would say package_blah_blah_version.patch.rpm and would be a very small (k) file. Could just be a naming convention of course, I didn't look too closely.
Slackware certainly re-releases the whole package, which for dialup can be a pain

As we've said, its not very scientific, there are many different examples and no solid rule. The only one I can think of is "dial up is crap", I've only had bb for 12 months and its totally changed how I use the net. The thought of going back to dialup is scary.

I was quite pleased with my mighty 1-2MB connection (flexible speed/cost), until I read this:
http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=0 ... 4&from=rss
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Postby nelz » Mon Apr 25, 2005 9:01 am

You are taking one, extreme example. Here is one chosen at random, KDE. Source 140MB, binary packages 143MB, both bzip2 compressed. And the source was downloadable as diffs if upgrading from a 3.4 release candidate. No way does an extra 3MB require broadband.

SUSE does release diffs for some packages, but I don't know of any other distro that does. It doesn't help that much if the main binary has changed anyway. A msall change to the source often results in bigger changes to the binaries. This AFAIR, is the reason Mandrake gave for not doing it.

I used dialup the other day and was horrified at how long it took a sinple web page to load. Even 512K ADSL seems slow now.
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Postby davecs » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:03 pm

Going a bit deep and meaningless (?) for a moment, let's get back to basics: Linux is a Kernel. We then add a load of GNU software, including a baselayout and compilers, and basic utility programs and we have an Operating System. From there, if you are clever enough, you can build a suite of software, including (or not) an update system, a means of adding more programs, and a means of tracking dependencies.

There are specialist Linux distros aimed at Education, certain Sciences, specialist equipment, certain languages, firewalls, and so on.

There are general distros, some just install the basic system and then it's up to you what you add. This can go to extreme such as Gentoo, where you install a basic system plus a text shell. Then you can go about adding what you like, including the X graphical system, window managers, building into complete desktop environments, and adding the programs you want. Others (Mandrake, SuSE, Debian and others) allow you to add programs you select from a list or alternatively (PCLinuxOS, Xandros, etc) give you a fixed set of starter programs.

Obviously the more fixed the setup, the more the selection has to be right for you. The more choice you have, the more you need to know in order to use that choice.

That's why, at the end of the day, no distro is right for everyone.

For brand new users, however, I would say that the one where you have the least choice is good, and if the software included is right for you, and well integrated together, it is as good as it gets. On the other hand, the more you know, the more you want to do for yourself, the more choice you want.

Is it any wonder, then, that my two favourite distros (I won't bore you by stating them YET again) are at these two opposite ends of the scale?
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Asus Asus M2N32 WS Pro+Athlon AM2/4200+ — GeForce 7600GT — 2Gb Cosair VS RAM — 500Gb WD5000AAKS SATA Drive — PCLinuxOS
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Postby bfree » Mon Jul 04, 2005 9:04 pm

fingers99 wrote:
do Kantonix do DVDs
Nope. Absolutely not, never, probably never will, not on the agenda. ;-)

Translated into the real world that means yes, Kanotix do have a DVD and have done for quite a while. It includes Gnome/KDE/XFCE and a veritable bucket load of software (2G compressed). A quick Visit to Kanotix.com/mzilikazix.org should give you the answers you need :-)
fingers99 wrote:It's a mere 700Mb CD using virtually (I believe it has been improved a little) the same compression system as Knoppix.

Well ... there is also a LITE edition now (under 512M) and in fact it uses squashfs rather then cloop.
fingers99 wrote:So, 3CDs on one. You want more? Well, Knoppix experimented with a DVD, but it doesn't seem to have gone down that well -- I guess you can have too much of a good thing.

Lots of people want more then even a compressed cd can offer. For example Gnome/KDE or xfce .. why have to choose. Need latex and don't like the fact it's 200M + payload means it has been chopped from Knoppix ... etc. Also you may note that Knoppix is now officially in dual development mode, cd and dvd.

So in summary, could you have been more wrong :-P
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Postby fingers99 » Tue Jul 05, 2005 10:58 pm

Ah, but I was right about 3 months ago, when I posted :-)
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Postby bfree » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:19 pm

fingers99 wrote:Ah, but I was right about 3 months ago, when I posted :-)

Well seeing as though Kanotix DVD was released 18.12.2004 you were still a little out saying they had no DVD and no plans for one. LITE has only appeared since you post but the pressue over space is long running for all live cds.
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