Sat 27 February 2016
First, some history. Then, some questions largely of interest to system administrators.
Once upon a time [UNIX] software distribution was simple. Your operating system came as a huge blob over which you had no control. Sometimes there would be updates. Sometimes the update would require a reinstall, sometimes not. Additional software came in similar blobs, “managed” in a similar way.
For a while, you needed to compile anything you wanted yourself. Figuring out dependencies was hard, so people adopted makefiles and then autoconf. Autoconf could figure out what sort of system you were running, adapt to various inconsistencies and then …