Every popular Linux distribution ships with some sort of software package management system charged with keeping track of every piece of software installed on a system and of the softwares dependencies on other components to operate.
If you stick to the packages that ship with your distribution—including everything needed to run a basic desktop or server—you can almost put software installation and update on autopilot.
However, youll inevitably want to stray from your distros defaults, whether to install applications that your distributor doesnt support at all or to fetch newer versions of supported applications.
I recently came across Smart Package Manager, a promising new tool that helps cut through the complexity of working with multiple software repositories, keeping package management for Linux both simple and flexible.
The first thing about SmartPM that caught my eye was its support for multiple packaging systems—SmartPM supports Red Hat (and its Red Hat Package Manager-based progeny), Debian, Slackware and Mandrake, all of which include completely different software packaging schemes.
I found SmartPM easy to use both from the command line and from its GUI. The latter included very good facilities for managing different software channels, such as a feature that allowed me to group available software by channel.
I was impressed with SmartPMs capacity for cleaning up after my software experimentation misadventures, with its very good dependency and conflict resolution facilities.
SmartPM Version 0.29.2 is in a beta state right now, and I ran into several small bugs while testing it. But even so, its working well enough to earn the chief software management spot on my workstation (for now).
For more information, go to smartpm.org.