interchangeability of RPMs (and .deb files) between distros (was Re: [conspire] public distribution, too choose 1.)

Daniel Gimpelevich daniel at
Sat Mar 12 00:57:03 PST 2005

Those that are still biased against RPM-based distros should read the
following website:

On Fri, 21 Jan 2005 01:23:37 -0800, Daniel Gimpelevich wrote:

> On Thu, 20 Jan 2005 14:33:47 -0800, bruce coston wrote:
>>       Less obviously, if you will get support from
>> CABAL you should seriously consider the .deb package
>> system over .rpm. The web pages say
>> lots about package systems, they make your life easier
>> so you probably want one. Currently you will need to
>> match the .rpm packages to your ~exact distribution
>> while a .deb is a .deb is a .deb unless someone messes
>> up. Debian has branches where you can install packages
> Nonsense. There's nothing about the .deb format that makes it
> distribution-neutral. It's just that because Debian already has
> practically every package under the sun, other .deb-based distributions
> have always simply used the Debian packages directly, so no matter which
> distro it came from, it was made for Debian, and would be therefore be
> interchangeable with another package of the same software, also made for
> Debian, and typically the packages themselves would be identical, having
> ultimately come from the same place. This is not due to the .deb format,
> but due to the fact that Debian has all those packages and licensing that
> has practically no encumberances. It is perfectly possible for a Linux
> distribution to roll their own .deb packages, and there is now a distro
> that does that: Ubuntu. Furthermore, the main reason RPMs are considered
> distribution-specific is also true of .deb files: The packages install
> files at the locations specified by the packagers, which in the case of
> packages for your distro (including Debian ones for Debian-based distros)
> you want, and in the case of packages not made for your distro (including
> using Debian packages on Ubuntu and Ubuntu packages on Debian, as well as
> using RPMs on anything) you don't want. Stuff that's not part of your
> distro you always want to keep close track of so that #1 no full pathnames
> are created by those packages that could ever also be created by your distro,
> and #2 If you should reinstall your distro, you can recreate your system
> as you had it complete with packages not made for it. This is similar in
> principle to the need to put stuff you compile yourself into /usr/local.
> Interestingly, the RPMs for RealPlayer/HelixPlayer for Linux install most
> stuff into /usr/local, with symlinks in /usr/share. This is especially
> unfortunate because the /usr/local tree is supposed to have the same
> hierarchy as / and /usr, used by all the software in that tree, and those
> RPMs create a single directory /usr/local/RealPlayer that also has the
> same hierarchy as /, /usr, and /usr/local, which is how /opt is supposed
> to work. If you use the installer program instead of the RPM, you get a
> choice of installing in /usr/local (the old default), /opt, ~ (the new
> default), or elsewhere. The RPMs for IBM Java put everything in /opt. The
> disadvantage of the existence of RPMs that put things in these particular
> places is that if you blow away your distro but keep /usr/local and /opt,
> you've blown away your package database and kept the contents of the
> packages, which becomes a problem when you upgrade those packages with
> newer RPMs. One way to control where stuff gets put by rpm is to install
> from SRPMs instead of RPMs. When you do that, rpm allows you to override
> install prefixes, and you may decide to or not to do this, based on the
> pros and cons that I have just described and the ones Rick described here:
> <>
> On one final note: The RPM package format and the .deb package format in
> no way require Linux in order to be utilized. For example, Fink for MacOSX
> uses the same .deb package system that is in no way different except the
> packages are not interchangeable with Debian ones in any way.

More information about the conspire mailing list