Excellent Management

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-02-10 Print this article Print

Excellent Management

The application library complexity from which Windows suffers, commonly known as "DLL hell," can afflict Linux systems as well, but whereas Windows attempts to conceal this complexity from users—with varying degrees of success—Linux systems provide users with tools to work through these issues. As a result, software installation and maintenance for Linux can be daunting, and the tools associated with these tasks must assume a heavier load than those for Windows.

SuSEs software installation and management tools are one of the brightest spots in its Linux offering, occupying a middle ground between simplicity/feebleness and obscurity/power thats left bare in Red Hat 8.0.

With the graphical software package configuration tool that ships with Red Hat 8.0, your options are basic—good for installing software from your Red Hat disks but not for much else. Alternatively, theres RPM (RedHat Package Manager) a command-line package management tool with which you can do pretty much anything, once youve mastered it. However, few have the time to master it, which is why a GUI tool is important.

RPM is also part of SuSE Linux, but SuSEs graphical front end to it, while more challenging than that in Red Hat, is the more effective tool. With it, we were able to search for packages, sort through software dependencies, and make installation and update decisions based on the information we found.

We also liked SuSEs facility for conducting online updates—with one major exception. The trouble was that wed often have to wait a long time for the updater to initialize, possibly because of busy servers, and there was no way to stop this waiting—no cancel button that would allow us to stop, for example, and select another, potentially less busy update site.

On our last test of the updater, as "one moment" stretched to 30 minutes, we were tempted to take the perhaps inelegant step of killing the update process, which wouldve meant becoming superuser through the command line—something a mainstream desktop user would not be comfortable doing. As we all came to learn with Windows 9x, killing runaway programs is part of computing, and this is another task wed like to see made easier in SuSE.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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