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17 October, 2005
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Mandriva offers 12,000 free software packages -- take your pick

Installing And Updating Software Is Easy In Mandriva Linux (aka Mandrake Linux)

. . . to download a free (as in beer) Mandriva distribution even before the free Mandriva ISOs are made available on the Mandriva mirrors please see our article, Mandriva 2006 Released to Public -- But Now It's Mandrake + Conectiva + Lycoris.

Mike Angelo -- 17 October 2005 (C) -- Page 2

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Article Index

Introduction

Mandriva Software Management Tab

Installing and Removing Software

Adding Installation Media Sources

Wrap-Up

Resources

About Linux Distributions

For more about GNU-Linux distributions and how they are put together, please see Anatomy of a Linux Distribution in our article SCO Clears Linux Kernel but Implicates Red Hat and SuSE.

Under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL), the GNU-Linux operating system is free and open source software (FOSS) and no one can charge for it. However, Linux companies such as MandrakeSoft, Conectiva, Novell, Red Hat, SUSE, and others that add to the basic GNU-Linux OS may charge for the added value and for distributing the GNU-Linux OS. They also can charge for services such as product support, documentation, and so forth.

  • Dependencies

A big problem with trying to install software on a GNU-based Linux system has to do with something called dependencies. Software installation dependency problems arise when the program you want to install depends on other programs or program modules that are not included in the to-be-installed program package. These dependent program modules are required by the to-be-installed program in order for it to run correctly, or even to run at all.

For example, the GNU-based Linux operating system is designed so that applications may share code modules called libraries. Thus, often a particular program is dependent on some library or libraries that are not part of that program's software package. (Microsoft Windows uses libraries too, such as DLLs or Dynamic Link Libraries.)

The dependency installation problem is that all the dependencies need to be installed along with the program you are installing in order for that program to work correctly, or even to work at all, if they already are not installed. Figuring out what those dependencies are, whether they are installed aalready, where the packages needed to satisfy those dependencies are located, and then grabbing and installing all those packages is a mess. Add to that the task of making sure that none of these dependent packages such as libraries conflict with any other packages, and you have a zoo.

But have no fear. Mandriva's Software Packages Installation module is here. It transparently cleans up all that dependency mess so that you do not even see it, except for a few approving or disapproving mouse clicks.

Mandriva's Software Packages Installation module automatically checks to see if a program package you select for installation has any dependencies. Then it checks to see if those dependencies are either already installed or also selected for installation. If not, Mandriva's Software Packages Installation module presents you with a list of dependencies that need to be installed and asks your permission to install them.

Additionally, the Software Packages Installation module checks to see if there are any conflicts. If there are conflicts, the Software Packages Installation module presents you with a list of conflicts and gives you a set of choices that will remove or resolve the found conflicts.

If you agree to installation of the dependencies, then Mandriva's Software Packages Installation module locates the needed dependency packages and adds them to the list of packages to be installed. (There are links to elaborate definitions of Dependency, Library, Package management system, RPM Package Manager, and Software package in the Resources section on page 3.)

Please notice at the bottom of the Software Packages Installation screen the text Selected: 0 MB / Free disk space: 2882 MB. As you select packages for installation the amount of hard drive space they take will accumulate in the Selected tally. Thus you can make sure that you do not select more packages for installation than that for which you have room on your hard drive.

Figure 4. Software Packages Installation Screen.

When you are set to start installing the selected packages, simply click the Install button. The Software Packages Installation module grabs all the packages and installs them -- no fuss, no muss.

Additionally the Software Packages Installation module then adds the newly installed software to the menuing system. Altogether, that's very easy indeed. (Some programs will not be added to the menuing system. That's because they are not GUI programs and/or they must be started from a command-line prompt.)

Adding Installation Media Sources

When you first install Mandriva Linux, you likely will install it from Mandriva installation CDs or an installation DVD that you purchase -- or by downloading the Mandriva CD or DVD ISOs and burning your own Mandriva installation CDs or DVD. Thus, when you use the Software Packages Installation module to install additional programs, it will look to the CDs or DVD from which you installed Mandriva Linux for the packages you select to install.

If a package you wish to install is not included in the CDs or DVD you used to install Mandriva Linux, that package will not show up in the Software Packages Installation screen as an available package. For example, if you want to install AbiWord on your Mandriva LE2005 system you will not be able to find it on the installation CDs or DVD. So, how did we manage to install AbiWord on our Mandriva LE2005 system?

Simple. We used the Mandriva Media Manager to add a Mandriva FTP mirror site to places where the Software Packages Installation module looks for available software packages. That opens access to nearly all the software that Mandriva has packaged for its Linux distribution, which is much more than the software included in the installation CDs or DVD.

Mandriva's Gaël Duval (founder of Mandriva Linux, originally Mandrake Linux) recently told MozillaQuest Magazine that there are more than 12,000 packages in the full Mandriva 2006 tree on the Mandriva mirrors. For more about that and also how to download a free (as in beer) Mandriva distribution even before the free Mandriva ISOs are made available on the Mandriva mirrors please see our article, Mandriva 2006 Released to Public -- But Now It's Mandrake + Conectiva + Lycoris.

Figure 5, below, shows the Mandriva Media Manager. The Mandriva Linux LE 2005 installer placed the Installation Download DVD (cdrom1) and update_source medium entries in the Media Manager panel during the Mandriva Linux installation and configuration process.

Then we added the AleContribs, AleMain, and AleUpdLE medium entries later in order to access the ALE FTP Mandriva mirror site, ftp://ftp.ale.org/pub/mirrors/mandrake/official/. (There is a linked list of U.S.A. Mandriva FTP mirrors in the Resources section on page 3.)

Figure 5. Software Media Manager Screen.

The Add custom panel was used to add these three medium entries one-by-one. Adding these three medium entries provides the Software Packages Installation module access to just about every package for Mandriva LE2005 that is available from Mandriva.

Figure 6, on page 3, shows the custom Add a medium panel. We ticked the FTP server medium type choice because an FTP server was being added. The Name, AleContribs, is an arbitrary name we made up to indicate this medium entry is the contribs directory on the ALE FTP server.

Next, we pasted ~/2005/i586/media/contrib into the URL text box to tell the Software installer where to look and media_info/hdlist.cz into the relative hdlist path to let the Software installer know where to look for the hdlist file. Next, Ok was clicked to finish adding the AleContribs medium entry to the Media Manager. Once again, a simple enough procedure.

The same procedure was followed to add the AleMain, and AleUpdLE medium entries. The ~/2005/i586/media/main and ~/updates/LE2005/main_updates directories respectively were used for the URLs. (The ~ represents the common first part of these URLs, ftp://ftp.ale.org/pub/mirrors/mandrake/official , which you also must put into the URL text box in order to have the complete URL.)

Article Index

Introduction

Mandriva Software Management Tab

Installing and Removing Software

Adding Installation Media Sources

Wrap-Up

Resources

Office on the Linux Desktop

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Copyright 2000-2005 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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