[Beowulf] Parallel Development Tools

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Oct 17 10:08:25 PDT 2007

On Wed, 17 Oct 2007, andrew holway wrote:

> Apt-cache with a bit of grep is a powerful tool indeed.
> $apt-cache search foo | grep bar
> everyone I work with however prefers yum. They regard Debian as being
> a bit backward.

I don't know if Debian is backward, but I will affirm that yum is pretty
fashion-forward.  I'm probably biased, of course, since I wrote the
original HOWTO and since Seth developed it about seventy feet from where
I'm sitting right now.  I've never seriously contributed to its
development but I've been a user for years, and it continues to improve
even now.

There are lots of ways to search out info using yum, some faster or more
complex than others, but the most common ones, also the most useful and
fastest, are as simple as "yum list \*whatever\*, e.g. --

rgb at ganesh|B:1011>yum list \*pvm\*
Available Packages
pvm.x86_64                               3.4.5-7.fc6.1          fedora 
pvm-gui.x86_64                           3.4.5-7.fc6.1          fedora

It also supports yum search foo (likely to get more than you really
want), yum info, yum deplist, etc. most of which I rarely use.  It's
nice to do "yum info \* > /tmp/yum.list" once right after an install or
upgrade, though, as this pretty much gives you a catalog of all the
available packages and their synopses, so that you can find almost
anything efficiently and interactively with less /tmp/yum.list and its
built in find tools, or via grep , or by just plain browsing through it.

Of course with 20K or so packages, browsing through Debian is a bit more
tedious I understand...;-)


> On 17/10/2007, Tim Cutts <tjrc at sanger.ac.uk> wrote:
>> On 16 Oct 2007, at 10:19 pm, Robert G. Brown wrote:
>>> On Tue, 16 Oct 2007, Jon Tegner wrote:
>>>> You should switch to a .deb-system, to save you some trouble:
>>>> $ apt-cache search jove
>>>> jove - Jonathan's Own Version of Emacs - a compact, powerful editor
>>>> Sorry, couldn't resist ;-)
>>> Hey, it's ok.  I'm actually trisystemal.  FC 6 on top (soon to jump to
>>> 8, but in no hurry), VMware, then debian and XP Pro VM.  And yes,
>>> it was
>>> a good thing debian already had jove as I still don't really know
>>> how to
>>> build debian packages,
>> If you want a good introduction to debian packages and how they work,
>> then I recommend Martin Krafft's book "The Debian System".  I've been
>> a Debian Developer for ten years, and that book still teaches me
>> useful stuff about Debian on a regular basis.
>> The chapter on packaging is superb; it teaches you how to make
>> packages from the ground up, so you really understand how they work,
>> starting with the basic fact that fundamentally a debian binary
>> package is an ar archive which contains two tarballs.  One,
>> data.tar.gz contains the files belonging to the package.  The other,
>> control.tar.gz, contains the scripts and information about the
>> package used by the packaging tools, and at a minimum this contains
>> two files:  DEBIAN/control, which contains the information about the
>> package (description, dependencies and whatnot) and DEBIAN/md5sums
>> which is, as you'd expect, a list of md5sums of all the plain files
>> in the package.
>> Once he's shown you how to build a Debian package manually like that,
>> he then shows you how to do it the more normal way using the various
>> wrapper scripts that Debian provides for the purpose to make life a
>> bit easier (and to help enforce the Debian policy on packages)
>> Debian doesn't really have a source package idea like Red Hat -
>> instead, when you use "apt-get source" to download the source for a
>> package you get three files; the upstream tarball, which is
>> completely unmodified from upstream.  You also get a gzipped patch,
>> and a description file containing md5sums for the patch and the
>> tarball, amongst other things.  Typically, the patch creates a debian
>> directory within the upstream source directory, and inside that
>> debian directory is a file called "rules".  This is just a normal
>> makefile, containing all the instructions for configuring, compiling
>> and packaging the software on a Debian system.  Once you have one of
>> these things, building the .debs is just a matter of typing:
>> dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot
>> or something similar.  There are still fancier things available for
>> doing this by keeping the sources and debian/* files in a CVS,
>> subversion or other revision control repository.  I use these in my
>> own package management activities to be able to go back and build
>> previous releases when users report bugs against them.
>>> and manage to get myself confused by apt tools
>> I can sympathise.  I've only started using aptitude since etch came
>> out, and it's taken me some time to get used to, but now that I am, I
>> quite like it, for the most part.  Especially the etch version, the
>> version of it in sarge had some really annoying behaviour under
>> certain circumstances.
>>> (I'm too used to yum).  But there is no doubt:
>>>   a) Debian is a perfectly useful, fully functional variety of linux,
>>> and I have been painfully taught to bow down before its selection of
>>> available packages, which is for all practical purposes inexhaustible.
>>> In fact, you need a search engine with powerful features even to go
>>> shopping amongst them.
>> ... which fortunately it provides for you.  It's called apt-cache.
>> Regards,
>> Tim
>> --
>>  The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is operated by Genome Research
>>  Limited, a charity registered in England with number 1021457 and a
>>  company registered in England with number 2742969, whose registered
>>  office is 215 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
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Robert G. Brown
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
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