HOWTO Use "gslapt" for packages
This HOWTO is written for newcomers with the hope that it may help you to understand the VectorLinux packaging system and its primary software system: "gslapt".
In the MS Windows world you usually install software by finding the .exe executable at a download site or on a CD, download it, and then install it. A three step process. However, Linux distros tend to use packaging systems with automatic databasing, retrieval, downloading and installing in one easy step. The VectorLinux packaging system is based on Slackware style packages (*.tgz or *.tlz for VL5.8). With gslapt these .tgz or *.tlz packages can be found, downloaded and automatically installed with three simple mouse clicks.
gslapt is the GUI software for managing the VL packages on your system. It is simple and intuitive and hardly needs a help manual. It consists of 6 "panes" arranged vertically:
1) Menu Pane: (File, Edit, Package, Help) - like every other application.
2) Toolbar Pane: (Update, Mark All Upgrades & Execute icons)
3) Search Pane: a simple one line text entry box
4) Packages Listing Pane: here you see all packages from the Source
5) Information Pane: consisting of 3 tabs: Common, Description & Dependancies.
6) Status Bar Pane: like every other application.
To use gslapt you must be root. This is done automatically for you in VL5 editions by asking for your root password before starting. To run it from a command line under X you need to run either "kdesu gslapt" or "gksu gslapt". Don't attempt to run gslapt as root from the command line - you will get an X permissions error. You also need to be connected to the Internet. Before gslapt can provide you with package information it must get this from somewhere. These "Source" locations are ftp servers which host VectorLinux packages. Go to the menu and choose "Edit, Preferences, Sources". Here you will usually find that only one default source is chosen (e.g.: ftp.nluug.nl). We suggest for newbies that you do not add others - particularly Slackware ftp sites, because then you will be installing packages not specifically compiled for VectorLinux. In VL5.1 and later editions the Preferences are all set up and ready for you to use and you are unlikely to ever need to edit the Working Directory, Excludes or Sources in the Preferences window.
The first thing you should do is click the "Update" icon. Update will retrieve all the recent package listings and data from the chosen Source repository. This may take a few seconds to a couple of minutes depending on the speed of your Internet connection and the current load on the server.
Once you have run "Update" your package listing pane will be up-to-date. Packages which are already installed on your computer are marked in blue in the Status column. Packages not installed are in white.
WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT use "Mark All Upgrades, Execute". This procedure will upgrade every package on your system for which there is a newer release. This is very dangerous. At the moment the VectorLinux repository of packages is not super-rigourous in its compatability with the different versions of VL. Consequently, upgrading all your packages may cause a part of your system to break (it may be KDE, may be sound, whatever). If you have a good, working system the ONLY valid reasons for upgrading a specific package is when you need new functionality or that package has a serious security issue (most security issues in Linux are not serious for workstation users). VectorLinux, unlike Microsoft Windows, does not suffer from continual security problems requiring upgrades. You certainly will not gain much and have much to loose by upgrading your entire system. If you wish to do this it is better to await next stable release of VL and re-install the entire system. We intend to improve our package repository to minimize any problems but until that day arrives REMEMBER: DO NOT use "Mark All Upgrades, Execute"!! unless you are prepared and experienced enough to fix potential problems.
Prior to installing a package you should also read its information in the Information pane so you can be sure it is exactly what you require. To install a package you then simply click on it and the click the Execute icon. You can also delete a previously installed package if you no longer use it. Before deleting a package please ensure other packages do not depend on it. This information is usually found in the Information Pane. It is recommended that you only ever delete standalone applications and never delete any system, sound, window manager nor KDE packages.