My difficulty in understanding stow was trying to figure out why I would want to set up an array of symlinks pointing to a central location. My difficulty in understanding toast is … a little different.
I’ll give you a screenshot this time, but it won’t help much.
toast, as I understand it, should act as a packaging envelope, downloading, compiling and “installing” software in a centralized location. So that much already sounds like stow, but toast apparently bills itself as a solution to local or non-system-wide software installations.
It’s an interesting idea; in theory, it could allow you to install software or specific versions at individual locations, and make them usable to a discrete user. I suppose it would also allow an administrator to pull down an updated (or obsolete) version and install it in lieu of a distro’s official release.
Since toast handles the bundling and installation more or less automatically, it also means you aren’t arbitrarily scattering files across your system tree without a unified and safe way to remove them. I hate to say it, but I do occassionally turn my nose up at software with no more instructions than
sudo make install, because I know I’ll find fragments of that package months later, hiding in /opt/lib/local or some dumb place like that.
So yes, in theory, I’m a fan.
But my cursory adventures with toast were less than promising. About four out of every five packages I tried to “install” with toast were unreachable, and I was picking some heavy-hitters, not obscure stuff. perl was accessible, but python wasn’t, and neither was htop or util-linux. Those are some rather glaring omissions.
An added complication: coreutils was available, but wouldn’t build correctly. Which means that technically speaking, toast wasn’t doing much better than I might, if I had to build software manually and forcibly install it locally. Unfortunately toast is no guarantee that you’ll get a working package, if you get anything at all.
I see that there are
change commands for toast, and it may be that I should be editing the locations of updated versions to toast, to access those missing titles. But I also see that toast is relying on sites like Freecode — now defunct — as some sort of index of software. And given that the most recent version of toast is already more than two years old, it might be that a toasty update is needed before it will do what it’s supposed to do.
So in short, I personally suspect toast’s age is interfering with its ability to find and build titles. And toast isn’t necessarily any better at building that software than I am, meaning my spongy pink organic brain might have a better chance of troubleshooting (“Oh, well, that’s not working because I don’t have GLU installed. Aha! Yer about to be boarded … ! Har har!“) than toast.
Given those shortcomings, my difficulty in understanding toast is … why not just jump into a cutting edge distro like Arch with AUR, or Debian Sid, or just micromanage your software, like Crux and some others? I am afraid my spongy pink organic brain is befuddled by this. … 😦