Ran into some issues with my tiny Debian hybrid install yesterday. One of the things I wrote about preferring Debian’s packaging to Slackware’s has its dark side: just because you can remove smaller parts to fine tune things, sometimes things are packaged together such that it’s not a good idea. Also, many apps are compiled for use on bleeding edge hardware with compile-time options that require downloading dependent libs and packages all users shouldn’t need. An example of that was the xbindkeys thing I wrote about the other day — massive download for a relatively small utility — especially since it can be compiled without guile; if emacs and vim can have no-X versions, other apps can be added to give users more choices suitable for their own hardware.
I was running into various problems when trying to pare the system down. If I want to remove A, then dpkg insists I have to remove B through K — but that I also have to install L through P, which aren’t currently installed, and then upgrade Q through V. In the process of it all, I was getting the messages that I had all these packages that were no longer needed. That’s when the real fun started.
In the process of all this, I decided it would be easier to start from the ground up and compile things as I see fit. That’s why I’ve favored ports over packages anyway, whether BSD or Linux. And why I’ve favored Slackware because it’s not inextricably tied to its binary packaging. You want source and ports, Slackware is good. You want packaging, Slackware is good.
Since I’m already running Vector, a Slackware desktop-oriented derivative, on my laptop and am very happy with it, I decided that would be good on my new hard drive, too. I’m now running Vector 5.9 both on laptop and desktop. I compiled kernel 126.96.36.199 for the desktop last night (188.8.131.52-r0313 #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Mar 13 17:38:20 CDT 2008 i686 to be exact). I have one hardware problem to sort out, and that’s editing my xorg.config so the scroll on my new mouse works — minor issue, which I would ignore if not for having a new mouse.
Vector has slapt-get and gslapt, the Slackware packaging versions akin to apt-get from Debian. It also comes with cruxports4slack, which I’m not sure I want to mess with. If I do use a ports system, I’ll stick with pkgsrc (which I’ve used with great results in both Linux and BSD). If that’s what I wanted, though, I’d start with a base install of Slack or just use BSD.
I started removing packages last night before I started on the kernel — no need for Abiword, Gnumeric, or Gnome Office, didn’t need any of the wifi stuff on this because I’m wired, etc. Have a bit more to do yet. I won’t hang on to XFce even though it’s nice and my RAM use hasn’t been too bad, and the kdm and qt3 stuff will be gone tonight. I’ll stick with jwm and ratpoison.
My only regret is that I didn’t use the same config so I could use the kernel on the laptop, too. On the other hand, it’s been working so flawlessly that I’m not sure I want to change it except to test OpenBSD 4.3 and DragonFlyBSD for the new bwi (Broadcom 43xx) wrapper/cutter. If I ever get time to mess with either of those.