Automated Repository Management » Linux Magazine

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If you deploy software packages to several computers, the standard Slackware tools lack efficiency. We show you how to create a custom repository to automatically install and upgrade software for multiple systems.

Slackware [1] has a bad reputation when it comes to package management. Many new users experience Linux through distributions that include advanced package managers. Tools such as Apt or Discover [2] set expectations and, for a new user, define how a package manager functions as well as its capabilities. Modern package managers can track software dependencies, purge software no longer in use, search and find applications in the available repositories, and perform system upgrades. When users come in contact with Slackware, they find Slackware’s approach too different from what they are used to and wonder why would anybody like it.

Intended to be installed as a monolithic system, you are expected to install the whole Slackware distribution on a machine. Slackware includes lots of libraries, desktop environments, web browsers and, ultimately, most software needed for a personal workstation or server. You can partially install Slackware (e.g., if you plan to run a web server, you may skip installing a graphical desktop environment), but partial installs are not officially supported.

In practical terms, what you get on the DVD is all there is to official Slackware. Unlike Apt, there are no official repositories for extra software. Official Slackware repositories exist only to serve upgrades to existing installs. The only official Slackware tool that interacts with the repositories directly, slackpkg [3], is designed specifically to fetch security updates and keep your system in sync with the official package tree.

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