The Debian packaging system makes it possible to do add, remove and upgrade automatically. You may have noticed that I said “makes it possible”, not that it always works. If the package is properly constructed, it will automate all these tasks for you. But it's up to the person or vendor building the package to ensure it works. The scripts in the package are also very important to help you with package management. In addition to the pre-install and post-install scripts mentioned earlier, there are also pre-remove and post-remove scripts.
Debian remains an “almost-commercial” distribution. By this I mean that you can buy it on a CD, but there is no company that sells and supports it, and as far as I know, no commercial software packages are available in the Debian format.
This situation could change. As I write, InfoMagic is considering making Motif available in Debian format. Also, as the official keeper of Matt Welsh's Linux Installation and Getting Started, we are considering writing an installation chapter for Debian.
Only time will tell if the Debian format will make serious inroads into the commercial Linux market. I hope it does.
Phil Hughes is the publisher of Linux Journal and Jonathan Gross is a technical editor at Seattle Software Labs.
Phil Hughes is the publisher of Linux Journal
Jonathan Gross is a technical editor at Seattle Software Labs.