[GRASS5] Debian

Roger Bivand Roger.Bivand at nhh.no
Fri Nov 29 04:30:22 EST 2002

On 29 Nov 2002, Dan Jacobson wrote:

> One would expect the premier free GIS, GRASS,
> to have an up to date shiny version for the premier free distribution,
> Debian, of the premier free operating system, GNU/Linux.

First - if this is your itch, please scratch it!
> Could it be that Grass core developers mostly use "other leading
> brands"?  No announcements of new items should be made until that item
> is also nicely packaged and ready for debian.

Great to have an eager and well-informed volunteer! Welcome! The job is 

> Let's make the grass installation experience a simple "apt-get"
> instead of an arduous "educational experience".
Sorry, educational experiences - like sports training - need to be arduous 
if you actually need to achieve anything.

No GIS, absolutely including ArcGIS, is just about installing the
software. It involves from weeks to months of learning, so the couple of
hours needed to install say GRASS from source on Unix/Linux is a very
small proportion of the time needed. It is also about the same level that
is needed for comparable software (GMT, ATLAS, R, netCDF, HDF, SEADAS, 
almost any community modelling software). In GRASS with the 5.0 release 
you do admittedly have to specify a number of places
where library headers are kept (the number is much less now than it was -
thanks to hard work by volunteers!!). This is because GRASS interacts with
very many libraries, which are not necessarily the ones a user will
install, or which may not be installed in the same places. In R, it is a 
FAQ that users install binaries, then wonder why the build train for 
contributed packages doesn't work, say on Darwin or Solaris - because of 
unsatisfied dependencies for header files or libraries that compilation 
from source would have caught.

Finally, if you are off-line, say in most of the rest of the world where 
many GRASS users work, with no high bandwidth network, installing packages 
and their dependencies from the net isn't a viable option, I'm afraid, 
though things are changing.

> That um, I just happen to use Debian, is, um just a coincidence :-)
> >> Anyway, as I run debian, and compiling grass 5.0.0 proved beyond me,
> >> I will wait for the .deb,
> H> FYI:
> H> For the debian package of 5.0pre4, see http://packages.debian.org/grass
> yeah, but that name sounds funny.  Sounds like even the top grass
> developers had problems making the current version work with
> debian... so if even the top grass developers felt it too much of a
> challenge to make a to compile on debian (and make the current .deb),
> then you can expect that it would be an unreasonable challenge for an
> average user.
Again, thanks for volunteering, contributions and commitment to support 
are always welcome!

> H> For more about fetching the .debs from testing if you run stable, see:
> H> http://op.gfz-potsdam.de/GRASS-List/Archive/msg07267.html
> odd, grasslist messages as seen on 
> gmane.comp.gis.grass.user on gmane.org number only in the 5000's. OK, I'll check.
> H> For some notes on compiling GRASS for debian, see:
> H> http://bambi.otago.ac.nz/public/general/grass/compile_reqs_debian.txt
> H> and
> H> http://bambi.otago.ac.nz/public/general/grass/compile_5.0.0_debian.txt
> H> Read the INSTALL file in the source package and search the grass mailing list
> H> for 'debian' ... the process really isn't hard at all once you get the
> H> ./configure line right and have all the required packages. Figuring that out
> See, to be a grass user one also must be an expert in installation.  I
> bet an ARC/INFO user doesn't have to master that part.  Ah, but grass
> is free, so don't ask too much.  Ah, but if the grass developers took
> the tiny extra step of making a .deb too, that would save so many
> potential users so much trouble.
> H> is the hard part. (and is spelled out in the above links to bambi.otago.ac.nz)
> OK, but it should be done once by an expert, (Mr. FOG?), and then the
> rest of us could just get the .deb.
> It seems the solution is for the core Grass developers to start using
> debian...  and make .debs for us...
> BTW, lets say that there are .deb's available.  But what happens when
> you want to install a outside package, e.g. r.cva? would one need a
> grass-devel .deb also?
> Sorry for the 'demanding customer' Don Rickles emulation, "You owe me
> something".  I do it in all my posts :-)
Dont apologise, there is something in it, just contribute!


Roger Bivand
Economic Geography Section, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of
Economics and Business Administration, Breiviksveien 40, N-5045 Bergen,
Norway. voice: +47 55 95 93 55; fax +47 55 95 93 93
e-mail: Roger.Bivand at nhh.no

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