if you build it, they will download

There is an open source product called OpenNMS that I am trying to get working in our enterprise. It’s a great product, and they even have packages for Debian, my Linux distro of choice.

Unfortunately for me, the server that I am using is running a pre-release version of Debian, the “testing” release called etch. It is the amd64 port, because I have a dual-core 64-bit chip. When I first set this up, I managed to get the stable release to properly build 64-bit packages tuned to my system, though the project does not yet create packages for etch or for 64-bit.

I decided yesterday (after struggling with glitches I couldn’t diagnose) that I was going to try to run the latest and greatest development version of OpenNMS. I ran into a lot of problems while trying to compile it, so I wrote an email to the mailing list, part of which said this:

I’m really looking forward to the day when I can install on a 64-bit etch system directly from APT. If there’s any way my haphazard skill set can help make this a reality, please let me know.

I got this back as a reply:

Glad you asked. You could start by packaging Maven for Debian.

I should warn you though, on a scale of 1 to 10, (where 1 is “no problem, I’ll take 10 minutes during my lunch hour”, and 10 is “I’ll quit my job, leave my wife and kids, and move into an abandoned missle silo for a two years”), this task is a 9.

Although it’s good to know that the reason that etch packages don’t exist yet has nothing to do with the developers being lazy, that was not exactly the response I was looking for!

For the uninformed, which included me until last night, Maven is a piece of Java software that manages the build process of other Java-based software. The OpenNMS project recently switched to Maven, where they were previously using Ant. The OpenNMS source tree includes a complete copy of the latest version of Maven, rather than expecting people to have it on their systems already. This is a change from the stable branch of OpenNMS, which requires that your system already have Ant installed before you can compile it.

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