Introduction to Linux software packages

You have already come across Linux packages during the installation stage. Remember you were asked to choose packages you want to install in your Linux? Well, at that time, you may be clueless about what Linux packages do you need. However after some times playing with Linux, you may need to install new programs or perhaps network or security tools. Maybe you realize that you need to upgrade or patch some software because security reason. Now it’s the time you look for software package.

A Linux software package is a group of programs that has been compiled in an archive format and ready to be installed in your Linux system by package management system. It contains meta-information such as a package description, version, dependencies, vendor and checksum. The program that comes with Linux official distribution is part of software packages. Normally, to install program in Linux, you have to configure the source, compile it, and install the source code step by step. With Linux software packages, system administrator’s job is made easier, quick and convenient.

Slackware software packages

Slackware is one of the major Linux distributions started over 14 years ago. Its package concept is similar to the Unix variants which offer simplicity and robust. Although Slackware uses tarballs format which is a tar archive and gunzip format, it is a binary package not a source code. Here is a made up programs and example of exploded Slackware tarball package :

./
usr/
usr/bin/
usr/bin/btsethttpseeds.py
usr/bin/btlaunchmanycurses.py
usr/doc/
usr/doc/BitTornado-0.3.18/
usr/doc/BitTornado-0.3.18/FAQ.txt
usr/lib/
usr/lib/python2.5/
usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/
usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/BitTornado/
usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/BitTornado/BT1/
usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/BitTornado/BT1/DownloaderFeedback.py
install/
install/doinst.sh
install/slack-desc

Some of the list of BitTornado package above has been removed. The complete exploded file is a long list and it is not necessary because this is just to show what’s inside the Slackware tarball package.

The full package's name which come with the official distribution cd/dvd looks like this:

slackpkg-2.70.3-noarch-2.

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