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 Forum index » House Training » Users ( For the regulars )
Woof Arch Revisited
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Joined: 16 Jun 2008
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Location: Union New Jersey USA

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan 2013, 19:15    Post subject:  Woof Arch Revisited  

Happy New Year!
About two years ago, I recommended that efforts be made to “Woof Arch.” http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=64337. At that time, my thinking was that Puppy and Arch could play into each other's strengths and overcome each other's weaknesses. I suggested that our strength were a newby-friendly operating system, which --booting from almost any medium, even on old, resource-limited computers-- would provide all the applications necessary for common daily tasks and “just work” effortlessly. In contrast, Archlinux’s weakness were (1) it was not nooby friendly and hassle-free; and (2) creating a LiveUSB or LiveCD required several gbs of storage and was far more technically challenging.
On the other hand, our weakness was in Package Management. Puppy's system –if that term can be used-- had just “grown like Topsy.” Applications built under one variant might not work under another. It might depend on which kernels were involved, what dependencies were already present, and whether or not conflicts among dependencies existed. In contrast, Archlinux excelled in the area of Package Management. Arch installs a base Linux system, and then the user can configures it and expand it depending on his needs.
Central to Archlinux is the Pacman software manager. It is capable of resolving dependencies and automatically downloading and installing all necessary packages. Pacman combines a simple binary package format with an easy-to-use build system. The Arch Build System (ABS) provides a way to easily build new packages, modify the configuration of stock packages, and share these packages. This makes it possible to easily manage packages, whether they come from the official Arch repositories or the user's own builds. Pacman keeps the system up to date by synchronizing package lists with the master server. This server/client model also allows users to download/install packages with a simple command, complete with all required dependencies. Although Pacman, itself, employs the command-line, and heavily relies on it, frontend GUIs are available. I suggested our devs experience in developing lightweight GUI’s could produce a system more inviting to newbies and casual users... Archlinux is a rolling distribution: That means that rather than having to install a new version, and reinstall applications, whenever a new kernel or new applications become available, you can upgrade your existing system to employ those innovations. In theory, a user need only run a single command to completely update her system. Archlinux packages are not “bloated” by the need to run under any possible system configuration. Rather, as I understand it, the Arch build system only installs those libraries, drivers and modules, required by your architecture and desired by you. The user decides what will be installed and executed and every component of the OS is transparent, accessible and replaceable.
Much has happened in the last two years. Amigo has continued to perfect src2pkg for automating the compiling of source files into pet packages .http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=76050. Iguleder’s early efforts to overcome Puppy Package Manager's shortcomings with pdebthing and pslackthing evolved into puppizard, a program for building packages from source files, http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=649015#649015 and then roar-ng, an alternative to woof. http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=75753. And jemimah –who offered friendly criticism to both my merger approach and my concerns-- developed Saluki, a T2 build, with a custom package builder that checked for missing dependencies. Jemimah's absence is sorely felt, but the efforts she began were not in vain. Under the firm hands of Geoffrey and Elroy, Carolina, http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=81312 and its offshoot, 'lina-lite, http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=82119, were born.
Like Saluki, in the ISOs of Carolina and 'lina-lite applications are divided into core applications [necessary for the system to run], User applications [what we users generally think of as applications, such as a text editor], placed in an “adrive,” and hardware drivers contained in a “zdrive.” Carolina is designed to provide a ready-for-daily-needs Puplet on bootup, comparable to Racy, Slacko, Exprimo or the precise-pups. Like Saluki, both “linas” contain user-friendly Remove-Builtin (applications) and Builder programs. With the former, you can remove unwanted applicatins. With the latter, you can create your own adrive with only the applications you want. Builder checks to assure that the applications you install are the latest version and contain all necessary libs and other components. While the “linas” both have a Remaster application, Builder, itself, can be used to create a custom ISO. In building that ISO, the user can choose to limit zdrive to only those drivers used by his computer, include only those “User” applications she desires, and can easily (one step) change the kernel [if someone beforehand has created a kernel pet]. In operation, the “linas” can load sfses on-the-fly, and install pets to your SaveFile. With sfs-builder, sfs-editor and the power of sfs-load-on-the-fly, 'lina-lite can be setup to run apps when you need them on most resource-limited computers. Although still evolving, the “linas” are mature Puplets without significant boot, SaveFile, graphics or wireless problems.
The default adrive of 'lina-lite contains only a small text editor (less than 1 mg). And its “core” file is only 60 megs. Including its zdrv, its ISO is only 88 megs.
One weakness the linas can be said to have –common with all Puppies-- is that pets and sfses built in it are not always compatible with other Puppies, and vice-versa.

Recently, simargl has built Archpup. Although still in its infancy, it is quickly overcoming the hurdles associated with the creation of a new operating system. Its core file is only 76 megs, and the entire distribution is packed into an ISO of only 81 megs. It has a fully operational Pacman Software Manager providing access to Arch packages. But its packages aren't pets. As I write this, marvrothal has just published both a package which may enable Archpup to make use of pets, and a Frisbee internet application. I, myself, and several of those posting to the Archpup thread, have yet been able to wirelessly accessed the internet. Hopefully, marvrothals applications will be able to overcome that, and they'll be included in the next version of Archpup, since installing them is not nooby-friendly. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the installation of pets and non-Arch packages may interfere with PacMan's ability to properly keep track of what has, or hasn't, been installed, and avoid conflicts between applications. And, of course, the addition of any application to ArchPup's “core” increases its size. If I recall correctly, ArchPup has not evidenced a problem with the use of sfses, and, indeed, can mount up to 26 on-the-fly.
Running ArchPup, my computer is limited to graphics available under Vesa. That, however, may only be a consequence of my not being able, as yet, to access Arch's repositories.
In the spirit of constructive criticism, marvrothal has suggested to simargl that may have to make a decision regarding the direction in which ArchPup is to evolve: whether it is to remain entirely compatible with ArchLinux and its philosophy, or become more Puppy-like and user-friendly. [At least, that's how I understand marvrothals's post]. http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=674205#674205. But I wonder if that is true.
As jemimah pointed out two years ago, devs are attracted to projects which interest them. Trying to get a dev --who is, after all, both a fan and a volunteer-- to pursue a project which doesn't interest him or her would be less successful than using coercion to herd cats. If it is simargl's desire to create a Puplet that maximizes compatibility with ArchLinux, he should be encouraged to do so. Some may prefer that choice. And both Archlinux and Puppy Linux will benefit from the discoveries he make following that goal.
On the other hand, if simargl or someone else desires to create a Puplet having some of the advantages of PacMan, although not entirely compatible with Archlinux, but providing the user-friendly experience of a traditional Puppy, than there may –emphasis may, remember I'm not a dev-- be a fairly hurdle-free method to do so.
Edit: But see below.
Stifiling reported, “i couldn't get my wireless working on archpup. I then started tinkering around and copied the pacman files out of the sfs and into PreciseNOP. It appears to be working about 95% close to perfect.” http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?p=667551#667551. Similar to 'lina-lite, PreciseNOP is a Puplet in which almost all “User Applications” are not included by default in the ISO. Its ISO is 136 megs compared to 'lina-lite's 88. Perhaps the pacman files could be copied into 'lina-lite with similar success.
Full compatibility with a major distro is a goal worth pursuing. I believe that 01micko's Slacko has achieved full, or almost full, compatibility with Slackware and it is considered one of the kennel's strongest and most versatile Puplets. But Playdaz Lupu/Lucids were only about 65% compatible with Ubuntus 10-11, and it served many of us as our main operating system for over two years.
So, also, encouraging devs to pursue their own visions has not ill-served us. I've already mentioned some of iguleder's accomplishments that lie at the technical end. Along his path of exploration he developed a woofed Puplet using debian binaries he called Guydog. It was functional, but did not provide a full complement of user applications, especially those needed for special projects. Fortunately for us, pemasu –whose interests appear to lie in creating Puplets that can fulfill daily needs yet be expanded to handle specialized projects-- became interested. Building upon the foundation created by iguleder, he developed Exprimo, another of our champion sled-dogs.
So whichever choice simargl makes, or no choice at all, I would urge those of our devs to consider taking on the challenge of making the most of PacMan's potential in Puppy; and that those devs having experience in writing GUIs take on the challenge of making PacMan user-friendly.

Edit: Don't try to get PacMan running in 'lina-lite. I queried Elroy about possibility and he indicated not in the current version which uses glibc-2.10 and PacMan requires at least glibc-2.11. Upgrading 'lina's glibc would break too many applications. He indicated that there may be other structural problems, but I'll have to think about whether they result from the philosophical differences between the Puppy and Arch, for which a work-around may be possible. For now, perhaps using a remastered "bare-bones" precise might be considered.


Last edited by mikeslr on Fri 04 Jan 2013, 10:30; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan 2013, 21:12    Post subject:  

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PostPosted: Wed 02 Jan 2013, 17:13    Post subject:  

Happy New Year! What I brilliant postand summary of a year in Puppy! I'm can now see the benefits of an archpup ; -)

there is a pacman gui, it seemed quite big when I went to install it. though someone mentioned it was lightweight Cool

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PostPosted: Wed 02 Jan 2013, 23:32    Post subject:  

Mikesir has made some interesting observations. Although realizing that Puppy began as a developers' adventure, for some of us it has become the OS of choice. It is fun to tinker with Puppy but most of the time I just use it for everything that I want the computer to do for me. I have a full HD install of Puppy 5.2.8 on two desktops and a laptop. I keep a few live CDs of 5.2.8 around and give them to anyone who will take them. A few folks have even let me install Puppy for them. It is a good OS for first-time computer users. That should be heart-warming sentiments to any developer.

What I am doing with Puppy Linux is not what the original developer and subsequent developers had in mind. I understand that and with respect and admiration I thank them for their fine work. But, Puppy has achieved a maturity and a following which makes it a 'distro', intended or not. The number and quality of users on this forum attests to that. I came from a few years of using Fedora then a few more of CentOS. After discovering Puppy 5.1.1 then 5.2.8 I have been confident and satisfied enough to not even try anything else.

There may not be any among us who would like the responsibilities that are required of an official distribution. And, the good thing is that it is not necessary. We can still be an experimenter/developer community--that is good. Is there any real distribution which can boast as many offspring as the litter of Puppies found here? But there is merit in adopting a distro-like attitude in an area or two, most notably package management. Shucks, forget the word "distro-like" and call it standardization or some other likable term.

Allow me to choose one example from 5.2.8, Shinobar's contribution of SFS Load-on-the-fly. I use this a lot and it is flawless. A few days ago I was searching the forum for info on how it worked, particularly the unload function. A post that I read said to type "sfs_load --help" to learn more. Here is what I got:
usage: sfs_load [--unload] [--cli] [+/-][EXTRA_SFS_FILE]
Load or unload extra sfs files on-the-fly.
Wow, hope I can remember all that! It turns out that I have version 1.1, stable is now 1.4 and dev is 1.9.6. It would be good to have a relatively simple and intuitive way to update SFS Load-on-the-fly. I know how to do it but it could be done a little more "distro-like". It would certainly enhance my advocacy of Puppy. I already love this little dog and I want others to love it, too.
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