Fedora and the repository politics (and exploding inkscape)
by Uche Ogbuji
Related link: http://copia.ogbuji.net/blog/2005-06-21/Fedora_and
This is a repost of an entry from Copia. I've been meaning to do this sort of thing, but it's taken some time for me to wrap my head around the entire world of personal Weblogging.
My Fedora Core 4 upgrade has been remarkably smooth so
far. Here are the first two complaints
about Fedora Core 4. One big one and one little one.
The little one is that inkscape is useless in FC4, it seems. Segfaults
when you blink at it. So just use apt or yum to update, eh? Well, then
there is the big problem.
Fedora needs to fix its repository politics. All the following is my
perspective as a user, not as a packaging expert. Just anticipating the
nitpickers, let me say that I might be wrong on the factual background
of of some things I get from my impressions, but I know for sure what I
go through as a user. Third party apt and yum repositories for Fedora
Core comes in two divided worlds. On one hand there is Fedora
extras, considered the official
repository, with FreshRPMs and
Livna loosely certified as compatible. On the
other hand there is the group of repositories coming under the banner of
RPMForge (Web site still under construction),
led by Dag and including others
such as ATRPMS and
Dries. You usually cannot mix
these two worlds without screwing up your system.
This is the sort of thing that makes Debian folks laugh their heads off,
and they're right to do so. (Of course my experience with Debian was so
miserable that I'm not in the least tempted to give it another try).
Worse than the lack of repository integration is the fact that the
various parties have spent energy flinging mud at each other that might
have been better spent in integration.
Most of the time, this doesn't matter to me. I choose one side of the
fence and chug along. Every Fedora Core release I give yum and the
Fedora extras world a try for a couple of weeks. I can never stand it
longer than that. Yum is terribly slow. Fedora Extras and friends are
terribly slow to incorporate new software. As an example, when I run a
script to count the number of RPMs I've for from Dag, AT or Dries
because I can't get reasonable fresh versions from Fedora extras and
friends, I come up with 89. This is a sure sign that Fedora extras
needs to work better with RPMForge. If I were happy with being six
months behind the software curve, I would have had one less problem with
Debian (I could have stuck with "stable").
So I go on to Dag and friends, and actually, I'm fine from then. Those
guys do an amazing job of keeping up on new and updated software without
constantly breaking my system (the constant breakage was my other
problem with Debian when I went with "testing"). This big repository
split only really smacks me in the face on one occasion: at the point
after upgrading Fedora when I've been trying yum and Fedora extras for a
couple of weeks and realize it's time to jump to apt and RPMForge. At
that point I have to do all the apt set-up for the right repositories
and co., and deal with the initial wave of conflicts. I'm about at that
point now, and hence this rant.
How does this schism serve anything except ego? Fedora extras and co
say the other side is uncooperative and will not submit to their
hard-core QA. Dag and co say say the other side is uncooperative and
insist on stomping on his repository all the time. Couldn't something
be worked out so that in effect Fedora Extras is the equivalent of
Debian stable and RPMForge the equivalent of Debian testing? I don't
know if that makes sense, but surely some form of compromise is
possible. The message boards are full of confused users and something
really must change.
I had a very similar problem...
I posted a weblog entry here on O'Reilly Net that details a related set of problems I had upgrading from Fedora Core 2 to Fedora Core 3.
FreshRPMS is part of RPMforge
On one hand there is Fedora extras, considered the official repository, with FreshRPMs and Livna loosely certified as compatible. On the other hand there is the group of repositories coming under the banner of RPMForge (Web site still under construction), led by Dag and including others such as ATRPMS and Dries. You usually cannot mix these two worlds without screwing up your system.