RefDB Download: software install instructions

There is more than one way to install RefDB and RefDB-related software. RefDB itself is currently available as source (pre-release and cvs), Debian packages (deb), Mandriva packages (rpm), and a FreeBSD port. Additional software is available as source and often as debs. Some dependencies are listed as available from a given internet address. Instructions for installing via any of these methods is given below.

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Debian GNU/Linux packages
Mandriva GNU/Linux packages
FreeBSD port


These install instructions apply to autotools-generated source packages, which includes all source archives available from the RefDB website. Source packages come as a gzipped archive, usually named something like foo-1.2.tar.gz. These archives should be copied to an empty directory. Unix-like systems usually include the tar utility which can be used to extract the archive contents. For the example archive mentioned above the command for the GNU version of tar is tar -zxvf foo-1.2.tar.gz. After changing to the newly created subdirectory, read the INSTALL and README files and follow any directions or advice they give. The INSTALL file, in particular, will have comprehensive instructions for the remaining install process.

In summary, the remainder of the install process consists of three steps, commonly written as

./configure && make && make install

First, configure the package. This is done by running the command ./configure which checks your system for required software. It can accept a number of parameters. It is very important that you check whether you need to use any parameters. A summary of the available parameters can be viewed with ./configure --help | more (the output is piped through more as it is often more than a page in length). The README and INSTALL files my indicate any important parameters.

The next command make creates the files to be installed.

The final step make install copies the newly created files to their target locations on your system. This command must be executed as root. If you are not the root user you can temporarily obtain the required privileges with the su command (see man su for more details).

At this point, providing no errors have occurred, the source package is installed. The original source archive and the extracted files can all be safely deleted.

Debian GNU/Linux

The Debian packages ("debs") supplied for the RefDB project are made available from repositories hosted on the RefDB website. These repositories are made known to Debian's package management tools by adding lines to the /etc/apt/sources.list file (requires root access). Users unfamiliar with this process should examine the manpages for their package management tool as well as the output from man sources.list.

In the following examples you must replace distro with stable, testing or unstable depending on the Debian distribution you are using.

To install from source packages rather than binary packages replace deb with deb-src. The only binary debs currently supplied are for the i386 family of architectures. Users with other architectures will need to install from source.

Most users will add only one of these repositories to /etc/apt/sources.list. If you add lines for both pre-release and Subversion repositories then two versions of the refdb package will be visible to your package management tool. Different tools handle this situation differently. aptitude, for example, in this situation will not upgrade to a new version automatically but does makes the new version available. You should examine the documentation for your package management tool to determine how it copes with multiple package versions.

RefDB (pre-release)

RefDB has not yet reached the magic "1.0" initial formal release. Stable versions of RefDB are periodically released as source tarballs. Between these formal releases, a number of pre-releases are used to test new features and fix bugs. The most recent pre-release is made available using the following line in /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb distro main

In the current pre-release repository RefDB is packaged as a single deb: refdb.

RefDB (Subversion)

RefDB is continuously undergoing development. A recent Subversion version of RefDB is always available. Add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb distro main

In the subversion repository refdb is packaged as three debs: refdb-clients, refdb-server and refdb-doc. This makes it possible to install RefDB as a distributed application. If you intend to run RefDB on a standalone machine make sure to install both refdb-clients and refdb-server. Both packages install with appropriate manpages. Full documentation is made available by installing the refdb-doc package.

Required libraries

RefDB depends on libdbi as a database abstraction layer. Both the current release and the Subversion version depend on newer versions of libdbi than are available from Debian. In order to install the required versions, please follow the libdbi Debian instructions to add the libdbi repository to your /etc/apt/sources.list.

Additional software

Some additional software is supplied RefDB as Debian packages, including vim-related packages, Emacs modes, and various dependencies. To make this software available add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb distro main

Mandriva GNU/Linux

Pre-built binaries are available as a part of the Official Mandriva 2007.0 repositories. If your sources already include the 'Contrib' section, you just need to:

urpmi refdb refdb-clients

If the contrib source is not set up, please use to get the correct syntax.

Before initiating the refdb server (via refdb-init), you need to install your prefered SQL server. Use the following commands to install PostgreSQL and the appropriate libdbi driver:

urpmi postgresql-server
urpmi libdbi-drivers-dbd-pgsql

(To install MySQL instead, substitute "postgresql"/"pgsql" with "mysql")

You're now ready to set up refdb by using refdb-init as stated in the manual.

Please report any packaging issue to Mandriva's bugzilla

FreeBSD port

RefDB is in the FreeBSD ports collection as part of the textproc category. See here for additional information about this port.