Converting Linux's Installation Packages

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  • DevynCJohnson
    DevynCJohnson
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    To install software on Linux systems, users will be using one of many installation-file formats. However, each Linux distribution only supports one or more types of installation files. For instance, RedHat-based systems use RPM files for installing new applications. A Debian-based system cannot read an RPM file. So, what if a RedHat user finds an application that they want to install, but the installation-file is a DEB file? Thankfully, there is a program called Alien that can convert installation-files. For those formats not supported by Alien, we will discuss how to convert those as well, or at least use the files without converting.

    NOTE ABOUT ALIEN: Some installation files will not convert well (if at all). Most files will convert and work well, but some can become useless or cause problems to the system. Mainly, the bad files will be files that contain installation scripts. The best way to know if a file will likely cause issues is to view the file in an archive manager and look for a script that has a title like "install.sh", "install", "installation.sh", or some other similar name.

    About Linux Installation Files

    The most common Linux installation files are Debian and RedHat packages. However, there are many other types discussed below.

    • DEB - DEB files (often called Debian-files) are installation-files used by Debian Linux systems. Some examples include Debian (origin of the package name), Ubuntu, Finnix, Knoppix, Linux Mint (Debian Edition), MintPPC, Linspire, MEPIS, and many others.
    • RPM - RPM files (Redhat Package Manager files) are installation-files used by RPM Linux systems. Some examples include RedHat (origin of package name), Fedora, TurboLinux, OpenSUSE, SUSE, and many others.
    • SLP - SLP files (SLackware Package files) are installation-files used by Slackware Linux systems. Some examples include Slackware (origin of the package name), Salix OS, Slamd63, Slax, VectorLinux, and many others.
    • PET - PET files are installation files used in Puppy Linux systems.
    • TXZ - TXZ files are installation files used in Puppy Linux systems.
    • PUP - PUP files were installation files used in Puppy Linux systems. PUP files have been replaced by PET files.
    • TGZ - This is a tarball (tar file) that was compressed with GZip. A tarball is like a container for files; users can store many files into one tar that does not compress the files. Gzipping the tarball compresses the tarball – like compressing any other file. Inside is source code, so systems that use this installation-file type compile the software before installing. Although Alien can convert this file type, it may be best to manually compile and install because Alien can have some issues with TGZ files.

    NOTE: Not all TGZ files are installation files. Any user can select some files and tarball them (put them in a tarball) and then gzip the tar file.

    • PKG - Solaris uses PKG installation files.
    • TBZ2 - This is a source code installation file that is a tarball compressed with bzip2. Linux systems that use this installation package must compile the source code and then install. Gentoo and Chromium OS are examples of Linux systems that use this installation type. This installation file cannot be converted easily. Alien does not support this file type. However, since this is a source code file, users can compile the code and install the software.

    NOTE: Not all TBZ2 files are installation files. Any user can select some files and tarball them (put them in a tarball) and then compress the tar file with bzip2.

    • TAR (Pacman Package) - This installation file is a tar file with a layout specific and a script file titled "PKGBUILD". This file contains information on the package and commands to compile and install it. Alien does not support this file type. However, since this is a source code file, users can compile the code and install the software. Arch Linux is an example of a Linux system that uses this installation file type.

    NOTE: Not all TAR files are installation files. Any user can select some files and tarball them (put them in a tarball).

    Install Alien

    To install Alien, use the package manager that comes with the system's Linux distribution or type apt-get install alien on Debian-based systems.

    Using Alien

    To use alien, open a terminal and go to the directory with the file. Then, (using root privileges) use one of the following commands depending on the desired output. Replace EXTENSION with the extension of the file to convert and "install" with the package name. The parameter indicates the desired output format.

    • To DEB: alien -d ./install.EXTENSION
    • To RPM: alien -r ./install.EXTENSION
    • To SLP: alien --to-slp ./install.EXTENSION
    • To LSB: alien -l ./install.EXTENSION
    • To TGZ: alien --to-tgz ./install.EXTENSION
    • To PKG: alien --to-pkg ./install.EXTENSION

    Install CreateSFS and SFS2PET

    To install CreateSFS and/or SFS2PET, open the Puppy Package Manager and search for the two applications. Select the programs and allow them to install.

    Using CreateSFS to Convert PET to SFS

    To use CreateSFS, open a terminal and type createsfs -f SFS-FILE-NAME PETFILE. Replace "SFS-FILE-NAME" with the desired name for the SFS file to be created. Adding the SFS extension is not needed. Then, replace PETFILE with the name of the PET file to convert. If the user wishes to put more than one PET file into the SFS, then list the PET files that need to go into a single SFS file.

    Using SFS2PET to Convert SFS to PET

    To use SFS2PET, open a terminal in a directory that is on a file system that accepts symbolic links. (The SFS2PET script uses symbolic links in the conversion process.) Then, type sfs2pet FILENAME to convert the SFS file to a PET file. Replace FILENAME with the name of the SFS file to convert.

    For more package management topics, check out http://dcjtech.info/topic/package-management/

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