Partially distributed distributions
Posted Feb 8, 2008 18:44 UTC (Fri) by JLCdjinn
Parent article: LCA: Disintermediating distributions
Over the past two weeks, I have periodically encountered a crashing bug in VIM. I am running Kubuntu 7.10, and I run the update manager whenever it indicates that there is a pending update.
vim --version tells me that the current binary includes patches 1-56. As of this writing, however, there are a total of 244 patches for VIM 7.1, and a bit of investigation indicates that a number of the remaining 188 patches fix crashing bugs; one of them could fix my bug. Naturally, I could compile, run, and test an upstream version, but, if it fixes the problem, I want to inject my upstream version into my system until I "return control" to the package manager. I would like to tell Kubuntu that I want to take full control of the VIM package, that I will be responsible for it, but I don't know how to do that.
This is a specific case of a general problem. There are many situations in which I would like to manually maintain the artifacts of a package on my system. I might want to do this in order to fine tune a package, such as the Linux kernel; when I want to test a bug fix, such as with KDE as described by Richard_J_Neill above; or when I want to actively develop a particular piece of software in the context of my overall system. Certainly, these cases are far from mutually exclusive. In order to do this cleanly, I need support from the distribution. I need a way to flip a switch in the package management system, which would tell the distribution that I will provide the dependencies filled by a particular package. I need the distribution to provide me with sufficient information that I can faithfully fill those dependencies. And then I need a way to relinquish control to the distribution, when I no longer need to closely control a particular package. It would be great if I could link any findings to both a distribution issue tracking system as well as any upstream issue tracking system.
To what degree do distributions provide this functionality now? How much documentation about this functionality exists? For example, on Debian- or Ubuntu-based distributions, how could I install a custom Linux kernel without getting in the way of the package management system? Having this ability might help us move in the direction suggested by Mr. Waugh, if I understand his intent.
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