Bitten by the Version Bug

May 29, 2008 at 11:07 pm 1 comment

For the past week, I’ve been struggling with getting OLM installed in Ubuntu, while Qi struggles with getting Web-CAT built. Every time we figure out what’s wrong, it seems that the culprit is always the same: versions.

OLM documentation isn’t that bad, except that they forgot to include some of the dependencies involved. And it turned out that this is very important to make it run. The first mistake that I made was blithefully ignoring the current version of python Ubuntu was hooked on (which was 2.5) and proceeded to install it on the older version 2.4. Once I got to the point of installing modules, I then realize that using ‘apt-get install’ (which was another mistake on its own) installs the modules on the latest version. Turns out that you can specify which version of python you want to use by editing debian-defaults file and specify the version to use. This is when I’ve also discovered easy_install which makes life a bit rosy when installing modules, especially on a specific version. Just execute to install it on a specific version of python and voila! you got python modules at your fingertips.

Once I got out of the apt-get hell, I then ran into the problem of compiling one of the modules that I need: PyXML. Turns out that it needs another python module (python-dev) that I couldn’t figure out how to install on 2.4 Edit: turns out you can do this with python<version>-dev. After giving up, I finally decided to manage my own python installation (building from scratch) and installed everything in it. I then override my $PATH with my custom python installation. At the end of the day, I finally got OLM up and running (even took me a while to figure out the default authentication to log in), with one exception: nothing was running. This was frustrating after a few days of wrestling through it.

After some laborious debugging, I finally tracked down the error: the version of TurboJson I was using (1.1.1) was in conflict with OLM. Even if the OLM doc specified to use TurboGears, installing TurboGears have other module dependencies and that it automatically downloads all the latest versions. The worse part is that OLM hides the error with its AJAX front-end so there was no way to see what’s going on without debugging (firebug not working well with FF3 is another story). Turns out latest version of TurboJson is throwing some AmbiguousMethod that can only be resolved by either changing the OLM source or downgrading TurboJson. So I chose the latter, and everything seems to be working like it should be.

With all this, I think it’s safe to say that we programmers still have a long way to go in resolving dependencies that do not break on every upgrade. The terms design-by-contract and program-to-interface always comes to mind on these occasions. For now the best remedy is to document everything, until someone comes up with a solution to make dependencies resolve itself on its own and make them, as Greg always says, either famous or filthy rich.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Greg Wilson  |  May 30, 2008 at 12:28 am

    I’m really sorry it’s hurting so much, but glad that you’ve finally got it running. Rich, famous, and popular…


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