Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pacman kicks serious arse

On of the more deceptive qualities of Open Source software is the
userbase of a particular product. People tend to swarm to what others
are already using, and accept all that is there without much of a
thought about alternatives. The bad part of it is when the authors of
the software don't look out at alternatives to see if they could improve
theirs by learning a thing or two from others.

Case in Point... Linux Package Management Systems.

My distro hopping ended for me when I discovered ArchLinux at least 3yrs
ago or there about. Before then, I had breifly used Gentoo for about 6
months, and I loved the auto-dependency resolution it did. I also felt
cool about the compiling backthen ;), untill I found ArchLinux and found
I didn't HAVE to compile UNLESS I realy WANTED to. For me, Pacman was
Portage without the compiling (and ohh... ArchLinux PKGBUILD files are
so what I expect, as opossed to Gentoos Ebuilds which I kept telling
myself I was going to get into, but that's not the point). The thing is
after using Portage for a while and loving it, and then using Pacman and
adoring it, I'd not really given thought to other distros and their
related package managers... untill recently.

I've had a brush with apt and yum. And frankly, Pacman kicks all their
collective arses in the areas where their functionality overlap. My main
gripe with apt, is the various interfaces (which after using apt for
almost more than a month, I'm still confused when I need to search for
instance, (apt-cache? apt-get? apt-foobar?). I'm all for small programs
that do one thing and do it well, but I'm also all about interfaces for
productivity, and everyone in a while the apt-bleh family of programs
trip me on guessing which should be doing what. Ok... that seems to be
my only gripe with apt actually :) (Its not as intuitive to me as Pacman
is, prolly b/cos i've wrked with Pacman for the past 3yrs? Though I can
vaguely recall grabbing the whole of pacmans major operations after
about 2 or 3 *schemes* thru the man page. I'm still procrastinating when
I'll sit down and STUDY the apt-bleh family of man pages). Its ok, but
well... i prefer pacman in that regard.

For yum, I think it has a more succinct interface than apt, and its
easier to get a grasp of its options, almost and compact as pacman too.
My overwhelming gripe with yum is all the *i think* uneccessary things
it does each time. Maybe there's and option to turn the attitude off,
but i dunno right now. Each time i hit yum install foobar, or yum search
bleh, or yum erase st0pd3l00pz. It refreshes its archives (? or what is
that thing it does each time, fetching base, updates, etc, EVERY
FRIGGING TIME!!!). Its just annoying especially over an SSH connection
that is breaking like burnt, crusty pancakes. I know yum is trying to
build dependencies, etc, but does it build it dynamicaly? I dunno. For
pacman, pacman packages installs these info in a DB of sorts, so it can
easily get back this info, in a very very minute fraction of the time it
takes yum to grab its own dependency information. So far, that's the
only gripe I have with yum.

In summary, I know I'm seriously biased toward ArchLinux, but my head is
not so far gone up my behind that I can't stick it out and do a balanced
assessment (and its not like i set out to do an assessment anyway... its
just my first reactions from my guts). Lets hope in the coming days as I
continue to use apt and yum, I can find admirable features which can be
patched into Pacman, so it kicks even more serious arse...

In parting...

yum: Hey pac... what are you doing? Those boots look huge
pacman: uhhh... could you please just stand over here next to apt
apt: okay d00d, we're here... what do we do next.
pacman: just turn around, with your backs to me, and bend over just a
bit... uhh.. too much... aha... perfect.




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