Synaptic Makes Apt A Snap

I’m still hacking away on Red Hat 9 as a desktop OS for my home PC, even though Red Hat’s CEO says that’s a dumb thing to do. However, one thing I ran into pretty quickly with Red Hat is the limitations of the RPM package management scheme. There’s RPMs out there for just about anything you’d want to install, but going through the process of finding the ones you want, resolving dependencies, and so on is a royal pain.

Debian users have it much easier, thanks to apt, the package management solution they use, which automates a lot of this nonsense. So, I grabbed a copy of apt for RPM, which brings that tool to the Red Hat world; but apt is a command-line tool, which means it still doesn’t have the utility of something like, say, Windows Update.

You can fix that, though, with Synaptic, a slick GUI front-end for apt that makes it just as pointy-clicky as you could ever want it to be. Once I got Synaptic up and running, things that used to be daunting — like, say, updating from GNOME 2.2 to 2.4 — became a breeze; just find a repository with RPMs of GNOME 2.4 (I used Nyquist’s), double-click to update gnome-desktop to 2.4, and then watch as the gazillion packages that GNOME requires are all seamlessly updated without a hitch. It’s pretty impressive.

The only hitch from the end-user perspective is finding the right repositories; apt-for-RPM is a niche solution, so packages are more limited in availability than they are for Debian’s format. Still, this is a nice stopgap solution until I figure out which distro to settle on as my Linux Desktop of Choice.