[PlanetCCRMA] Why not debian-based?

Fernando Pablo Lopez-Lezcano nando@ccrma.Stanford.EDU
Sat Jan 31 18:59:02 2004

> Out of curiosity, why is PlanetCCRMA RedHat-based and not Debian-based?
> Not only is Debian's license more compatible with the academic 
> environment, but the PlanetCCRMA distro tries to make itself act like 
> Debian (with apt), anyway.
> This isn't a troll; I'm really just curious. :-)

There are several reasons, I guess mostly historical at this point.
Please keep in mind that Planet CCRMA as a project was not "designed"
(ie: I did not say at some point "let's get a project started and let's
base it on RedHat"). 

What you see now as "Planet CCRMA" is just the result of initially
making available to the world the custom-built packages that I was using
to mantain a linux based, music and audio-friendly environment at CCRMA.
Through mostly user feedback the project has recently grown out of
control, and now I can truly say: "I have created a monster" :-)

The Linux environment at CCRMA has been RedHat based for quite a while
(I think the first version I installed was RedHat version 4 or something
like that back in '97). At that time one of the appeals of RedHat was
RPM (the package manager) and an easy to use installer (I was previously
using Slackware, first linux install was done some time in '96). At
several points in time (even before what I was doing internally at CCRMA
became available as "Planet CCRMA") I considered switching to a
different distro, and I indeed considered Debian (and others), but
Debian was not (at that time) as easy to install as RedHat and the
stable release was _too_ stable (for my taste). Anyway, the choice was
made a long time ago and each time I have again considered switching
there were not enough incentives to do so(*). 

Regarding apt, Planet CCRMA originally did not use it, and, as you may
guess, it was not very usable without it :-) Apt made a huge difference
in making it easy to install and update for non-CCRMA users, but the
choice of apt was not "to make the distro act more like Debian". I could
have used another program other than apt, but at that time, apt was, I
think, the best choice (for example, there was also a free
implementation of the up2date server that I considered but it was too
young in its development cycle and apt for rpm seemed like a better and
potentially more stable choice that leveraged on Debian's experience
with it). If I started from scratch today I could use yum, for example
(and I will, when I have a slice of that mythical thing called "free

Anyway, sorry for the long post, hope it clarifies _some_ of the

This is not to say that CCRMA and (as a side effect) Planet CCRMA will
stay forever with RedHat / Fedora Core. Who knows what the future will

-- Fernando

(*) there has to be a considerable advantage, I mantain a customized
environment of 40+ machines so switching involves learning all the
quirks of a new distro, plus customizing it so that it behaves in pretty
much the same way as before and creates the same environment. Not
impossible, of course, but a lot of work. Even a version transition
within the same distro involves a lot of work!

And it is harder now because it is not just CCRMA anymore...

(**) for example Progeny is porting the anaconda installer to Debian!
So, Debian could, at some point, be as easy to install as RedHat/Fedora.