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15 February 2002 @ 06:04 am
Bootstrap Linux - A Modest Proposal  

Okay. After four hours of compiling "stable" GNOME from source, and hunting down libraries from every which-where in order to build Mozilla and get XMMS working, all I want is a Linux distro that bootstraps a compeletely native code base onto a box from a "working" kernel, and maybe someday I'll get this out of Sorcerer GNU/Linux, but I'm angry now, dammit.

Okay, here's how it goes. Developers for a major codebase, say, GNOME, KDE, GNUStep, whathaveyou, write a SINGLE script that takes the code they have, compiles each individual package in the right order, and emits a DETAILED list beforehand about which dependencies need to be applied before construction begins. None of this crap about installing an ISDN subsystem so I can get libgtop to compile- nothing about assuming I have an infinite-precision calculator like bc to compile libgtop, and nothing like refusing to build libgtop anyway, just on principle.

Start with a base system- the CD can have m68k, i386, MIPS, PARISC, and sparc binaries on it. Bootstrap from binary glibc and gcc all the basic binutils and networking options again, then redo gcc and glibc. From this point on, everything else is, as they say in StarCraft, "crawling up the Tech Tree." Want to install XMMS? Set your phasers to Mp3 and Ogg goodness, and fire away as glib and gtk+ are installed by default. Decide you want GNOME after that? You already know where you are in the Tech Tree- maybe you have to crawl back down again for some reason, but you can always build back up again. People, this is FREE CODE- all you need is time, and if Walters can do it on his 226MHz Pentium box in FreeBSD by typing "make world," dammit, I'm willing to give it a shot. For right now, just a whole lotta bitchin, but I think this is definitely the way to go for the future of Linux. If nothing else, automating the construction of an entire operating environment is a good proof of concept that Linux is well-organized enough, and its code mature enough, to be ready for the mainstream. End rant, in 5, 4, 3, . . .