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Installing and Using the Smart Package Manager in SuSE Linux 10.1

Note: This article applies to an old version of Linux that is no longer in use. The article is shown for historical purposes only.

After I installed SuSE Linux 10.1 on my main workstation, I once again noticed that the new online updater SuSE is using in place of YOU just doesn't work. This is a poor choice on Novell's part - they should have left YOU in place and offered this new updater as an option. All the SuSE users have to live with their choice, and their choice is causing serious problems with users.

So I have been looking around for a way to do updates to my 10.1 system. I recently received the August, 2006 issue of Linux Magazine in the mail and was looking through it when I spied another Jason Perlow gem of an article entitled 'Tweaking SuSE 10.1'. I was immediately interested, as his article on getting DVDs to play with SuSE Linux has allowed me to have full DVD support on all of my Linux boxes.

I read the article and was intrigued by his use of something called the Smart Package Manager. So I downloaded the RPM packages for it and proceeded to install it.

Installing Smart Package Manager

The Smart Package Manager's home is at http://www.labix.org/smart. There is a download page, and I went there to download the packages I needed. At the time I installed it, the latest packages were

Note that at the time I wrote this article, the latest version is 0.42. That's pretty early, but it seems like the application is pretty complete and bug-free. Also note that there are versions for different machines. I got the one for a 32-bit installation, as that is what I have installed on my AMD-64 workstation. I put the above packages in my Downloads directory, where I store all my Internet downloads.

There are several packages that the Smart Package Manager depends on, but the bottom line is, if you have installed all of KDE, all of Gnome and the KDE and Gnome development tools, you should have everything that is required.

The next step is the installation of the packages. I brought up a terminal program, changed to the Downloads directory and entered

pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # init 3 pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm
pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-gui-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm
pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-addons-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm
pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-debuginfo-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm
pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # rpm -Uvh smart-ksmarttray-0.42-1.guru.suse101.i686.rpm

That completes the installation, including a GUI interface that is added to the SuSE start menu.

Since I was still at the command line, I also did the following to get everything up to date:

    pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # smart update
    pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # smart upgrade

These commands update the local repository information from the Internet and upgrades the Smart program.

Next, I needed to get back to the GUI screen, so I entered

    pitr:/home/mburton/Downloads # init 5

and logged back in as myself. There was two more things I wanted to do to use this new program. I needed to disable the non-working updater and add Smart to the task bar panel. To remove the SuSE updater from the task bar panel, I started up Yast and selected System, then System Services (Runlevel). I then went down to the novell-zmd entry and disabled it. Leaving Yast, I noted that the updater icon had been removed from the task bar.

Next I needed to add the Smart Package Manager icon to the task bar panel. With the mouse, I grabbed the left-hand separator in the task bar and dragged it to the left, so there would be some free room in that area where the volume control, beagle search and klipboard icons reside. I then right-clicked in the empty area I created. from that menu, I selected Add Application to Panel, then System/Configuration/Package Manager (Smart Package Manager). The icon for Smart shows up in the task bar panel, and I am ready to use it.

Using Smart Package Manager

When you start up Smart Package Manager, the first thing it asks for is the root user's password. This is necessary because you will be adding to or deleting from the entire O/S. You need root access to add or remove packages.

I decided to try out Smart on something small to start with. In the Smart GUI list, I selected Screensavers and right-clicked on the box next to tuxsaver, then selected Install. I then clicked on the File/Execute Changes menu item. Smart presented me with a list of changes and I clicked OK. Smart then connected to the proper repository and downloaded the packages required for that screen saver. Note that, unlike other package managers, Smart can download multiple packages simultaneously. This really speeds things up.

When the downloads were completed, Smart installed the packages. And that was it - the screen saver was available for use.

I then tried a bigger challenge. About a week back, I tried to install a program called DVD::Rip. I failed because there were way too many support packages that needed to be loaded first. So I gave that program a try. Under Applications/Multimedia I found the program and selected it for installation. When I clicked on Excute Changes, I was presented with a list of a couple of dozen support packages. I clicked OK. Smart downloaded everything, installed it all, and I now have a working DVD Ripper.

I noticed that the Scribus desktop publisher was missing from SuSE Linux 10.1, so I loaded the latest version. Here, I selected the two packages I needed:

When I clicked on Execute Changes, Smart told me what would be downloaded:

When I clicked OK, Smart began loading the packages in parallel:

After the download was complete, Smart installed the packages:

My final test was an update of all out of date packages in SuSE 10.1. I clicked on the Edit/Upgrade All menu item and clicked OK when asked. Smart downloaded 400 MB of updated packages, installed all of them and I now have an up to date operating system.

Conclusions

I really like the Smart package Manager. It's powerful, easy to use and the user interface does not present me with any new paradigms I have to learn to use it. Even though the package manager appears to be in the early Alpha stages, it is complete and bug-free (as far as i can tell). I recommend you take a look at this package manager to replace the default manager in SuSE 10.1.