Friday, December 28, 2007


All long time Slackware users know its package management tools do not calculate dependencies. It never has and possibly never will. At least not officially.

The author of Slackware, a certain Mr Volkerding, is on record as saying Slackware will never do dependacy checking due to the inherent risks of doing such. Now, it is perfectly feasible that as he gets older and married life takes a hold and the probability of children being added to the fold, that he may change his mind. However, at this time in Slackware's development cycle, it is at version 12 with -current (the play area that will become the next Slackware version when the author deems it fit to be so) in full swing, Slackware's package tools do not support dependancy checking.

There are a couple of packages in /extra that do do dependency checking but as is witnessed all over the Internet these programs sometimes wreak havok on users systems. It is not for me to say whether these issues are caused by user or program errors but having played with these programs on my test desktop machine I can only state what happened to me. I am by no means a novice Slackware, let alone Linux, user but both Slaptget and Slacktrack (the programs deemed worthy of a place in /extra) both bit me and totally hosed my test desktop machine. Luckily, having used Slackware since forever I recovered that desktop but as sure as night follows day there are many poor tortured souls out there that do not have me experience who would be left with but one option and that is to reinstall. I would hazard a guess that Mr Volkerding knows about these oopsies that occasionally happen and until such a time as these reports and complaints stop he will never incorporate such programs into Slackware proper.

And so it should forever be so.

So, why then do various third party outfits add in extra tags to their package sets that are for dependency checking? These outfits add slack-required files into their packages which are then used by Slaptget. started this rot and others such as and are doing it too. It is wrong and flies in the face of what Mr Volkerding himself has stated.

I ask these package repository owners to clean up their act and remove these slack-required files from their packages.

A while ago I joined a party whose aim was to properly explain how Slackware's package tools worked. The grand plan was to document every aspect of those tools. A noble aim I am sure you will agree. However, it soon became apparent that what they wanted to do was expand on what Slackware's package management tools already did by adding in various extra bits. As soon as this became apparent I and my partner in crime for this very blog, left.

Slackware is lean and clean. Long may it remain so.

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