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Multiple package managers on one distro?

4 replies [Last post]
libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04

This is, of course, not a novel idea, but I haven't seen it done much. Some distros support installing software with multiple package managers and I know that this is, to a point, possible on all distros, but it is usually that only one package manager is a default and recommended and using anything else implies a level of risk of breaking something.

However, would it be possible to design a distro on which you could have two or even more package managers which are equally stable and safe to use, which are all basically "default" and "recommended"?

Or to push this even further, could it be possible for it to support *all* package managers that exist?

I guess for this to work a distro would have to be designed to be completely package management agnostic allowing the user to choose which to use themselves. Such distro would, I imagine, be totally standards based, putting everything in standard usual places while still leaving a workable option for alternative structures in which other package managers usually put stuff..

Anyway, I thought about this when writing this post so you can put it in that context if you wish (experimenting with new distro ideas as part of our own distro sub-project).

If you've got any thoughts feel free to share. Smiling


Joined: 2006-03-28
The problem here might be

The problem here might be resolving dependancies when you install a package with one manager, but have another package it depends on installed with another.
Here some frontend could help.

Basically, if the user makes sure everything is installed, it is already possible and should be no problem to have different package-managers installed.
On my system I have RPM and DPKG installed, though I mostly install from source. I installed OpenOffice from RPM and sometimes use it for testing, I compile a package and build an RPM with checkinstall. That way I can easily remove the package again if I don't want to keep it.
EasyLFS also offers RPM and DPKG, mostly to enable the user to install binary-packages. Some wrapper which might resolve dependancies across package-managers does not exist there though. Maybe something can be found on FreshMeat or SourceForge, but I'm not so sure about that. Mostly people stick to the package-manager they find on their distro I guess.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
Yeah, I kind of forgot

Yeah, I kind of forgot about the dependancy resolution. There would apparently have to be some sort of a "bridge" application over all available package managers which will make sure that the new package being installed doesn't pull packages of software that is already installed. This bridge would basically indicate to the package manager that those packages have been installed.

The reason why having multiple package managers working on a single distro in a safe way is because that could then lead to a GNU/Linux flavor in which pretty much any package in existance would work. All you have to do is download a package, no matter if it is deb, rpm, pacman package or slackware package, double click and it will install using the appropriate package manager for it.

This might be a way to neutralize the disadvantages of having many package managers in the FOSS world, because of which many call for standardizing on one package manager. Since I don't think this will ever really happen, the next logical thing is to develop a way to use any package manager on a distro, a kind of an inter-package-managers glue. Smiling

Another benefit is simply the ability to try out multiple package managers easily and also the flexibility of being able to choose which package system to use on your distro without having to install a new distro for each (e.g. Debian for dpkg/apt-get, Fedora for rpm/yum or Slackware for tgz).

a thing's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
distro is package manager

A distro pretty much just is a package manager and repositories of packages. If you don't really get what I'm saying, try installing Gentoo.

I have a feeling this won't work well.

free-zombie's picture
Joined: 2006-03-08
It's seldomly a good idea

It's seldomly a good idea to mix packages designed for different systems. There are standard LSB packages, but these are relatively rare and already cared for since a compatible version of RPM is present on most systems.