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I'm trying to determine the level of support enjoyed by various software packages across all major Linux distributions. That is, for a given package, find which distros include it in the default installation, and if so, what version they include. For both new distro releases, and older ones.

A few distros actually publish a list (e.g. D.S.L.), but thats pretty rare. Debian-based distros seem to have a comprehensive online database of packages and their metadata, but whether a package gets installed by default doesn't seem to be shown.

Distrowatch does something very close to what I want, but a) it isn't tracking all the packages I'm interested in, and b) it doesn't seem to mention whether a package is merely available in a distribution, or is included in the distributions default base install.

I could of course download and install each of the distributions I'm interested in just to check to see if the package gets installed, but that would take days, and is a pretty inefficient use of resources.

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Why does it matter? What do you really want to know? –  Zoredache Dec 10 '10 at 19:40
    
@Zoredache: I'd like to know what libraries are likely to be around for my own programs to use. The userbase in question is generally conservative with respect to installing new packages. If I have this information on package availability, I can better weigh the 'costs' of adding a dependency with the gains. –  John Dough Dec 10 '10 at 21:45
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For Red Hat-derived distributions, you can find an easy answer for what packages get explicitly installed by looking at the comps.xml file in the installation tree for a given release. But that won't tell you what's pulled in by dependencies.

I think in general with the ease of modern package management, the only point where people really care about this is "does this fit on my LiveCD". Other than that, the approach generally tends to be "don't add stuff to the defaults frivolously, but if no one really objects, eh, there you go."

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To expand on this a little bit: most distributions support installation from network sources, and the packaging tools people will use to install your packages will automatically pull in any necessary dependencies as long as they are part of the distribution. –  larsks Dec 10 '10 at 22:02
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