Alien - Use Any Package On Any Distribution
Sometimes, a utility or an application that you want to install is impossible to find in the format of your distribution. Alien is a utility that can convert one package type into another. It can get you out of a fix when you can't find a package for your distribution, and it is also useful for package maintainers who want to distribute packages for distributions that they don't run. It can work with Slackware, Debian and RPM packages as input and output types.
It's surprising how much stuff you tend to come across that is stuck in a single package format. Printer drivers are an example of software that is often abandoned without sourcecode. Occasionally, developers of special interest software only create packages for their own system and there is no one else willing to build for other systems. If you can get the source code, and it compiles, you might be better off using that to install it via the package manager by making use of Checkinstall (see our quick guide) rather than using Alien.
First a word of caution, Alien isn't guaranteed to work with everything that you throw at it. As good as it is, think of Alien as a last resort rather than a preferred installation routine. There is sometimes a significant difference between the different package formats and the organisational layout of source and target distributions that means that it won't work properly. When you're using Alien, you're generally travelling in uncharted waters, and the Alien website advises against the use of Alien to install system level components.
Alien is in the package repository of most of distributions, and once you have it installed, it's simple to use. The format for the command is
alien [options] file
Note that Alien needs root privileges to run. The most important options, for most users, are -r, -d and -t for .rpm (Red Hat), .deb (Debian) and .tgz (Slackware) package output format respectively. Alien can figure out the input package format on its own. So, to take the .deb of wxCam and convert it into an RPM use:
sudo alien -r wxcam_1.0.6_i386.deb
You then apply the standard package installation tools of your distribution and hope for the best.
The Alien package converter website.
UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.
Fast/Flexible Linux OS Recovery
On Demand Now
In this live one-hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for complete disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible full-system recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.
Join Linux Journal's Shawn Powers and David Huffman, President/CEO, Storix, Inc.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- Sony Settles in Linux Battle
- Libarchive Security Flaw Discovered
- Peppermint 7 Released
- Profiles and RC Files
- Maru OS Brings Debian to Your Phone
- The Giant Zero, Part 0.x
- Snappy Moves to New Platforms
- Git 2.9 Released
- Astronomy for KDE
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide