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Built-in system utilities

Other operating systems have come with built-in utilities that a system administrator can use to manage the system’s software. These utilities can be run to install the software on the system; typically, they take some of the work out of manually installing software, dealing with issues such as figuring out which files need to be put where on the system. Once installed, these utilities typically track the files that have been installed. This knowledge can usually be used to uninstall those applications automatically. Since the software knows which files are associated with the application, it can be told to uninstall the application, and it can find and delete all the files that belong to that application.
These built-in utilities typically come in two different forms. One type focuses on managing the installation process, providing custom utilities that can be used to perform the otherwise manual tasks of compiling software and copying files into their final locations. The three major freely available Berkeley Unix, or BSD, operating systems, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD, for example, ship with a software-management system called, variously, ports (FreeBSD and OpenBSD) or packages (NetBSD).
The ports system is composed of extensions to the normal Unix software-compilation utilities that help it automate and track many of the steps of a standard source-code compilation. When using ports, you still download source code, unarchive it, configure it, compile it, and install it, but the ports software automates many of these steps. Furthermore, the ports system does limited tracking of the files it installs. Although it does not offer more advanced features (such as an interface to search all installed files to see what application supplied that file) or the ability to upgrade installed applications, it does provide the ability to uninstall applications that are installed using ports. These sorts of limitations are typical of management applications that function as the ports system does, by enhancing the compilation and installation phases of application installation. The packages system on NetBSD has similar limitations.
Other system-management utilities focus less attention on compiling an application for installation and more attention on the files that must be installed on the system after the application has been compiled.
For example, the standard System V Unix package-management software supplied with most commercial Unix systems (Sun's Solaris, for example) devotes no attention to management of software compilation at all. Instead, it tracks the individual files associated with each application in a system database.
To install software using the System V tools, you must compile the software. After compiling the software in the standard fashion, prepare a list of the files from that compilation that need to be installed on the system. Be certain to state where the files need to be installed and what permissions and ownerships they need to have once installed. Then run a series of commands that look at this list, find the files listed in it, and archive them into one file, along with a copy of this list that specifies where they should be installed and the ownerships and permissions. This single archive file can then be transferred to other machines, where a System V software-management command can be used to install it. This System V installation command (typically called pkgadd) unpacks the archive, copies the files into their final destinations based on the enclosed listing, and sets permissions and ownerships on the files as specified by the listing. Finally, this pkgadd command registers the list of freshly installed files into a system-wide database of installed files.
Such a system offers several advantages over manual software installation. Software can now be installed and uninstalled easily, and the system-wide database of installed files can be readily searched to locate installed applications and files. However, this sort of system also has severe limitations; it is far less flexible in the software-configuration stages than software such as the FreeBSD ports system, which offers great control over the software-compilation stage of software installation.