Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sat 14th Sep 2002 22:44 UTC
SuSE, openSUSE From SuSE Linux 8.1 on, YaST2 comes with a new, powerful package manager. It supersedes the classic YaST2 single package selection and integrates the YaST Online Update (YOU) and post-installation add-on selection at the same time. It lays the foundation for supporting multiple installation sources like a traditional set of SuSE CDs, add-on product CDs, patch CDs, FTP servers or even local directories - all of which may contain software packages to install. Specially optimized versions were implemented for both graphical user interface (the YaST2 Qt UI) or text interface (the YaST2 NCurses UI), providing each type of user with the tool that best fits his needs. Read more for the commentary.
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Debian vs. Yast
by Xirzon on Sun 15th Sep 2002 00:25 UTC

I think you don't take the target audience of SuSE into account. While SuSE does advertise their distribution as suitable for desktop use, their focus in the last couple of years has clearly shifted to the server (that's why they are pushing UnitedLinux, too). The package management looks like it's designed to satisfy power users / system administrators who need easier ways to deal with conflicts. From this perspective, it's probably a step forward.

If you want a model for a usable package management, try Debian. I know, I know -- most of the current front-ends aren't that great (too bad Stormix was discontinued -- stormpkg was pretty nice). But the architecture is very powerful. They have a very strict policy for stuff like version numbers and change them if necessary, and they have a configuration system closely tied to the package management. The package configuration system is not tied to a particular UI, there are graphical and console based front ends to configuring packages. The distinction between stable/testing/unstable is very professional and useful. (The policy for the package config scripts is not very newbie friendly, though: Many packages want to know all sorts of advanced stuff.)

Basically, Debian's system would be easy to turn into something nice for the average end user with some commercial backing. The distributors just need to get together and agree on a standard -- something that is, unfortunately, as hard in the Linux world as everywhere else (*cough* DVD-R *cough*).

Soon after making the change to Linux, I moved from SuSE to Debian. I don't regret it: The package management alone has been worth it. What I do find disappointing is the time it takes for new packages to come out, but then again, with the exception of some annoying bugs (KDE 2.2 clipboard behavior), I don't really care about running the latest apps. Their security upgrades have also never disappointed me. Installing apps with Debian is definitely *much* easier than under Windows.