GoboLinux 013 review

by rbytes.net on

GoboLinux is a Linux distribution that breaks with the historical Unix directory hierarchy

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 716350K
Developer: GoboLinux Team
0 stars award from rbytes.net

GoboLinux is a Linux distribution that breaks with the historical Unix directory hierarchy. Basically, this means that there are no directories such as /usr and /etc. The main idea of the alternative hierarchy is to store all files belonging to an application in its own separate subtree; therefore we have directories such as /Programs/GCC/2.95.3/lib.

To allow the system to find these files, they are logically grouped in directories such as /System/Links/Executables, which, you guessed it, contains symbolic links to all executable files inside the Programs hierarchy.

To maintain backwards compatibility with traditional Unix/Linux apps, there are symbolic links that mimic the Unix tree, such as "/usr/bin -> /System/Links/Executables", and "/sbin -> /System/Links/Executables" (this example shows that arbitrary differentiations between files of the same category were also removed).

It is geared towards people who prefer to install applications from the original source packages. That is the main reason why each application gets its own directory: so you can install it from source there and then remove it with an "rm -rf". So, you see, GoboLinux is oriented at the experienced user who doesn't like things to be automagical. Our scripts merely automate procedures, but they don't "make decisions", and whenever they have to, they ask first.

The binary package collection was created as a way to avoid duplication of effort between users. The source package project was created to store "compilation rules" of the original source packages of the applications. We do not wish to estabilish a "packaging standard" such as RPM. We think that there is no real need for "packages" if the original .tar.gz is properly made. For instance, when an application uses the GNU AutoTools (autoconf, automake...) you don't need any GoboLinux package to keep your system consistent.

However, given the more logical directory tree, GoboLinux could be made, with a comprehensive binary package collection and graphical front-ends to the scripts, into a newbie-friendly distribution, but that is not a specific goal we seek (at least not in short or mid term).

GoboLinux relies on a series of tools that automate various tasks, such as generation, installation and removal of packages, and most importantly, maintainance of the symbolic links that keep the system consistent. These tools (mostly are shell scripts, actually) are fairly stable, since the idea behind GoboLinux is not new (see question about the origins of GoboLinux).

Another important issue when using a distribution is the availability of packages, ie, software that you can download in binary form and install in it straight away. In this aspect, GoboLinux is very young and far behind the other estabilished distributions. We have, however, all packages needed to get a running system (all packages that are part of "Linux From Scratch" and "Beyond Linux From Scratch" projects, for example), plus many others, such as KDE and all related packages, Tcl/Tk, and the list just won't stop growing. Check out the latest list. In this sense, is important to popin out that we are working to bring other distribution's facilities, such as the Gentoo Portage system, to GoboLinux.

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