ALFS/LSB...LSB, your thoughs

Gerard Beekmans gerard at
Fri Jul 7 20:33:06 PDT 2000

> The main concern is this: LSB is just a specification; in and of itself it
> does not provide a working system that vendors can test their software
> against. For companies deeply emersed in Linux, this isn't a problem: they
> can look at a Linux installation and figure out, more or less, whether or
> not it's LSB compliant. But these aren't the companies I worry about. I
> worry much more about companies like Oracle and Informix, that want to
> play in the Linux space, but don't necessarily understand Linux all that
> well. For them to get value from the LSB, there has to be an LSB-compliant
> system they can test against. ALFS could be that system.

That's exactly what I have had in mind. I'm not sure if you have been
following ALFS lately (not that all that much has been said but a few
things have) but the thing we're working on now is a tool that is
controlled via profiles. The ALFS tool can setup a system according to
LSB specifications by just feeding the LSB profile to the tool and all
will be done automatically. Perhaps it asks a few simple where
absolutely needed (think fdisk'ing. You just can't have a tool start
partitioning your harddisk automatically. well technically we can write
a wrapper or so that checks if there's available harddisk space and have
it allocate part or all of it without user intervention).

> LFS alone can't be, because it isn't automated. No one at Oracle is going
> to grow through a Linux install by hand. They want a CD they can pop into

That's the reason why ALFS started. A while ago I realized that LFS is
fun for a single person but if you have an office with 50 workstations,
the guy in charge of putting LFS on the systems will roughly do it like

On the first system he'll the time of his life
On the second system it'll be "ok been there, done that"
By the third time he'll curse the creator of LFS who didn't think about
automizing stuff and will send a flame or two to the creator (that would
be me)

So ALFS was born. Then LSB came around just at the same time and there
is a great opportunity here.

> So ALFS can and probably should have installation scripts, even a package
> management scheme, but can be distinctive by (1) making sure that every
> ALFS system has source, and has binaries compiled from source on that
> system, (2) being truly vendor neutral, and (3) being LSB-compliant. That
> combination has the potential to be really compelling to companies like
> Oracle and IBM.

All of that can be put in a specific LSB profile. One tool for every
situation. Is your situation, needs, preferences not yet present in a
profile? Write your own, send it to the ALFS development team and it
will be present in the next release.
> So you might want to use RPM, or dpkg, or both, but use them in a way
> appropriate to ALFS. Or you might want to build a new tool. But you have
> to do something.

I've been thinking about that too. I'm thinking about a "Linux newbie"
scenario where the user has never touched Linux. I don't expect him to
open the LFS book and setup LFS by him or herself. Automatization is
required. Then I don't expect him or her to upgrade the system manually
using configure scripts, compilers and the like. Some automated system
must be in place (what we call in nice term a package management
system). So I have been aware of it and have been thinking about what to
use. We can do it the easy way and use an existing one like rpm, dpkg or
whatever other tools are used on systems.

But I think it's an even better idea to create our own package
management system. I know this will take time and all that, but it would
be great, wouldn't it? Perhaps we can start using something that's
already out there and at a later point we can always start using our own
home brewn package management system.

> One question I've been thinking about a lot in recent weeks is this: how
> do things work in the FreeBSD world? I know they have a package manager,

I don't have FreeBSD but I do have OpenBSD (version 4.2 I think)
somewhere which I've never installed. Perhaps I should install it and
see what's going on there. Or is OpenBSD totally different than FreeBSD
(I'm not familiar with any BSD flavour for that matter)

Gerard Beekmans

-*- If Linux doesn't have the solution, you have the wrong problem -*-
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