Richard Freeman on 19 Aug 2010 10:50:43 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] X11 basics.

On 08/18/2010 07:32 PM, Chris Nehren wrote:
That is entirely unrelated to needing the X11 libs that the installer
program is linked to, which *does* constitute installing X11

Of course, if the installer program is statically linked and actually
works without X11 packages entirely, that's rather different. :)

I agree with your general sentiments here. I think I had commented on this in my talks - one of the things about Gentoo which is nice in a server environment is that it does facilitate getting rid of dependencies like X.

Imagine you have a program that has both console and GUI interfaces. Due to the GUI interface, it is linked to libX11, which means you can't even run the console interface without libX11 on your system, and that means that your package manager will be configured to install libX11 if you install that program.

In the Gentoo world the X11 support would be triggered by the x11 use flag, and libx11 would be a conditional dependency. So, if you have disabled the x11 use flag, then libx11 won't be pulled in, and the package will be built with make options to disable X11 support entirely.

Still, this is a bit of an edge case, as there aren't many packages that aren't easily split up along file boundaries where a single executable provides both an x11 and a console interface. The usual Debian-like solution is to just split the package in two as a result. However, there are some cases where that doesn't work.

There are other issues that can make Gentoo on servers less than ideal, but there are some who run it. In general Gentoo is a good solution anytime you need to carefully manage dependencies, as it gives you a great deal of control over them. In fact, from posts I've seen in blogs and mailing lists it seems like Google is considering using it to manage Chrome (the OS) builds - probably for these sorts of reasons. I like to think of it as falling somewhere between LFS and Debian.

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