For a Linux enthusiast there are a variety of distributions (distros) or otherwise called flavors available in the internet. These distros vary mostly in the package management system they use to install software and also in their philosophy. Although the basis is same, it is the differences in handling the power that the kernel (Core program of the operating system) delivers that makes them distinct from each other. A newbie can easily get confused with the concepts in Linux, thanks to Microsoft which serves as an introductory course to using a computer the way you want it. In this article we will check what all options are catered for a normal user in installing software.
Mainly the distros can be categorized on the basis of package management system into three viz, .rpm based (redhat package manager), .deb based and the source based. The first category.rpm has its basis on Red Hat operating system or extensive usage of their code. openSUSE, fedora, Mandriva are a few to mention in this class. The next class is.deb or Debian based distros. Multitude of distros are available in this too most prominent one being Ubuntu. The third category uses the source code for its primary operations Gentoo linux being one among them. Many distros provide additional front end programs to make it easier for the user to add or remove libraries or software's to the system which may be either GUI based or command based.
Now we will have a look at a few conceptually best package managers used by the distros. Red Hat has Yum (Yellowdog Updater Modified) package manager for the convenience of the user. It was originally developed to manage Red Hat Linux systems at Duke University's Physics department. Ubuntu has the synaptic package manager which uses the underlying apt (Advanced Packaging Tool) to gather and install software. Gentoo uses portage as its software installer but is a bit different in behavior from other package managers in that it deals with source code and compiles and installs for the specific machine on which it is running. These package managers install software from any recorded media like CD or DVD or from internet servers called repositories maintained by distributions and communities associated with its development. All these software managers resolve dependencies between packages while installing a software or library. Dependencies arise when a software might be compatible with a particular implementation of a library file where as another software we are trying to install might need a different underlying implementation of the same concept. When the two such conflicting software's needs to coexist then the library file preferences need to be sorted out. Software's usually depend on many libraries and hence the automatic management of dependencies is a welcome move as far as the huge Linux users community across the globe is considered as it would alleviate the problems in managing the system.
There is ample scope if you are a nerd or a geek to have your own way of tweaking the system and this is what fancies the computer addicts to use this powerful operating system. To conclude let us assume that the competition in the field gives rise to wonderful Linux based operating systems easily manageable and gives a new dimension to computing capabilities of the new generation.