[LON-CAPA-admin] Re: LON-CAPA and RedHat Support

Peter Kovac kovac at gwu.edu
Wed Nov 5 13:29:37 EST 2003

    The discussion of what distribution to support is great and all but 
why is LON-CAPA limiting itself to one distribution over another?  This 
is, in my opinion, one of the greatest failings of this project.  L-C 
offers a wonderful platform-independance on the client side but 
restricts the server to one outdated version of one flavor an OS with 
dozens and dozens of (free) options.  Certainly many people have their 
own preferences and superstitions but it might help wider-spread 
adoption to be able to tell a boss/manager/dean/director that 'sure we 
can use your favorite UNIX' be it Solaris, *BSD, Gentoo...

    Certainly LON-CAPA requires an installation of MySQL, Apache, Perl,  
gnuplot, the system itself, and...?  The only *real* difference between 
any given distribution is (1) support from the company (2) installation 
tool, (3) proprietary configuration tools like YaST, (4) file system 
layout -- which using LSB should be standardized, and (5) choice of 
apt/emerge vs. rpm vs. ...

    Given that I haven't looked through the inner workings of the code, 
the following should be taken with a grain of salt.  But, if L-C only 
requires the above tools plus others available as rpm's, it seems like 
for any given RPM-based distribution (Fedora/RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE, 
...) a .src.rpm should be fairly easy to produce that checks appropriate 
RPM dependencies and does the install.  I must admit I've always been 
baffled by the strict adherence to not only RedHat but RedHat 7.x -- I 
just can't think of a single tool that's in use that's not available and 
standard on all the other distributions.  This would make the automatic 
checking of software (CHECKRPMS) moot but that's generally up to the 
(super-)user of a given installation as is and there are other tools for 
it: apt-get, SuSE's (free) online update, etc.  Also, a standard gnumake 
would be fantastic.  If the problem is related to where tools are 
placed, simple use of environment variables, command-line options, or 
./configure should take care of it...

    With that said -- if one is going to go for just one RPM-based 
distro, I'm all for SuSE.  They have excellent configuration tools, a 
wonderfully easy setup, and free on-line updates.  Excellent tools and, 
at least in my opinion, easier to use 'out of the box' than many other 
distributions -- great for L-C's target demographic.


Peter Kovac
Systems Coordinator
Physics Department, GWU
725 21st St. NW
Washington, DC 20052

(202) 994-3811
kovac at gwu.edu
"Heh heh heh... You just lost five dollars." -Bender

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