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by Giacomo Lozito
© 2004-2010

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*** GnomeMLS, alias GNOME without GNOME ***

author: Giacomo
last modified: 18 Oct 2005
argument: GNOME and Slackware


Since P.Volkerding, author and maintainer of Slackware Linux, decided to remove GNOME packages from the distribution, all the users of this desktop environment had to search alternative ways to install and update it on their Slackware boxes.
There's a good availability of choices for this task, like Dropline GNOME, Freerock GNOME, GWARE and others. However, all of these GNOME package sets for Slackware have a common characteristic: they install GNOME on your system and make it work.
... what if this wasn't your true goal? :)

I do not use GNOME. I'm sure it's a cool desktop environment, and I do not doubt that people using it may be absolutely satisfied; simply, it is not my choice. Nevertheless, the removal of GNOME from Slackware has created some problems for me, too.
There are several programs that, even if they do not declare themselves as GNOME programs, actually depend on one or more GNOME libraries in order to work, thus requiring these libraries to be installed on the system. Moveover, GNOME libraries often depends on other GNOME libraries; in the end this results in a nasty dependency chain, expecially unpleasant if the unique reason behind the installation of all these libraries is to make a single program work properly.

I found myself in this situation some days ago, when I wanted to use the mysql-query-browser. This is one of the graphical tools created by MySQL developers (along with mysql-administrator) for database management. Both programs need the gtkmm toolkit 2.0, with libsigc++ 1.2. This is not a problem, it's not difficult to get and install these libraries (gtkmm-2.0 can be even installed in parallel with gtkmm-2.4). Once these depencies are satisfied, mysql-administrator works nicely.
Unfortunately, mysql-query-browser is much harder to please. During the compilation, it asked for a couple of libraries: libgnome and gtkhtml-3. While mysql-query-browser is not advertised as a GNOME program, in fact (and in its depedencies) it is.
Gtkhtml-3, despite its name, doesn't depend only on GTK but it requires GNOME components too (libgnome, libgnomeui). Moreover, mysql-query-browser requires GtkSourceView, another library that (again, despite its name) requires GNOME components to work. Libgnome, on its turn, requires other GNOME libraries. In the end, to make mysql-query-browser work, the following GNOME libraries are required:
gail, gconf, gnome-keyring, gnome-mime-data, gnome-vfs, gtkhtml, libbonobo, libbonoboui, libgnome, libgnomeui.
ORBit2 is required too (but I already had it on my system), because some of the libraries above depends on it. Quite a bulk, huh?


Since I did not want to install the entire GNOME environment to make a single program work, I compiled the libraries above. I wanted to easily install and remove them as a single unit, so I created a "container" package, that is a package containing all other packages with the libraries.
In the end, I created a small handy set of GNOME libraries, that I've named GnomeMLS (GNOME Minimal Library Set). Its purpose is definitely not to provide a working GNOME system, but only and exclusively to provide the libraries that many programs require (each library is accompanied by its license, but the documentation is not included). GnomeMLS is available in the form of a single tarball, containing the others. By installing the GnomeMLS tarball, the script will automatically install the libraries, in sequence. The same procedure can be performed to automatically remove all of the libraries, using the script gnomemls-uninstall that is included in the GnomeMLS package (and installed under /usr/sbin); this script will remove the libraries packages and the GnomeMLS package too.
I decided to publish the GnomeMLS tarball, for the benefit of whoever may find it useful. The unique recommendation for the usage of GnomeMLS is quite banal and obvious: do not install it if you already have GNOME installed on the system or if you already have the libraries included in GnomeMLS.


contains: gail-1.8.5, gconf-2.10.1, gnome-keyring-0.4.5, gnome-mime-data-2.4.2, gnome-vfs-2.10.1, gtkhtml-3.8.1, libbonobo-2.10.1, libbonoboui-2.10.1, libgnome-2.10.1, libgnomeui-2.10.1.