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 Linux Aliens: Portable Package Power

Although no one officially recommends using Alien as a solution for business, I have found it to be a very effective tool. Package conversion allows me to choose packages that are not officially supported by my distributor and install them in my distribution's native (RPM) format on my machine.

 (Submitted by Chuck Talk Wed Mar 9, 2005 )

  Utilizing Alien, I was able to recently build a native Knetstats RPM that works on my SUSE Linux 9.2 Professional system without a hitch. The RPM will also work on a properly configured Novell Linux Desktop 9 install, but it is not an officially supported package. In other words, if you do use the package on NLD 9, it is at your own risk as an unsupported package.

The process for building an RPM for KNetStats owes much to Thomas Windheuser, the man who built the Debian binary package of same. That work alone made the conversion to an RPM a drop-dead simple process. As in all things open source, the work of one good programmer can combine with another to make more solutions completely accessible to others. Free and open source software grows geometrically due to the component nature of FOSS.

In order to build the KNetStats RPM, you simply have to acquire the Debian package built by Thomas Windheuser, then compile properly with alien (as root) as shown below:

#alien -r knetstats_1.3.0-1_i386.deb
#knetstats-1.3.0-1.i686.rpm has been generated
#rpm -ivh knetstats-1.3.0-1.i686.rpm
# knetstats **************************[100%]

Then, login to your user account as normal and simply run knetstats as you would had you installed the application through the normal source install process as I have previously shown. You willhave to have Python installed on your system in order to use the RPM properly.

I will be making RPMs available here along with their associated MD5 sums as soon as I have a few spare cycles to do so. There are quite a number of valuable packages that can be converted effectively this way, and I will try to make those available as well for SUSE 9.2. Stay tuned for further updates.

The one thing to remember when utilizing alien packages is that if you do not have the dependencies installed - they will not work. That requirement remains. The applications are also not usually supported within Apt4RPM repositories as they are "alien" packages that were not built originally as RPMS, and no one has yet ported them to a native RPM format. They may be more bleeding edge than you prefer, and YMMV (your mileage may vary). They will be supplied AS-IS with no warranty implied, expressed or supplied. I only hope that you find them as useful as I do. Until next time.

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