Just a pile of Old Computer Junk "Its life Jim, but not as we know it"

GnuCash 2.4.8 on Debian Squeeze

I like to retain for as long as possible the ability to install packages into my Debian system (currently, ‘squeeze’) from stable DVD ISO images made from physical disks previously purchased. This means that at times I have to do some dpkg-buildpackge / make / configure trickery to get things t work as I would like…

The reason for maintaining a stable distribution local package archive are twofold:

  • out here our Internet is wireless as it is in much of his country outside the cities, and thus both bandwidth and download-limit constrained.

  • I can track Debian security updates for the most part.

Of course, this means when I want to run newer software I frequently need to rebuild from source. Simply downloading binaries from wheezy or the latest Ubuntu would otherwise want to upgrade much of my system to a newer libc6, etc. I also like to try and keep the my installed software ‘debianised’ as much as possible by building the DEB files from sources, so I don’t end up with much crap in /usr/local/bin or other places.

Recently I wanted to upgrade GnuCash from 2.4.5 (previously built from source) to 2.4.8 as found in wheezy. I want to experiment with the python bindings to better customise my own budget reporting, as well as hopefully fix some annoying UI bugs.

The usual method for building a package dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -b doesn’t suffice in this case, due to missing dependencies (libAqbanking is too new, for example, and in any case I don’t do banking from within GnuCash) so I had to go hunting for documentation (see references below)

Complete procedure:

  1. Download / install the prerequisites (note - this may vary depending on what is already installed). This assumes that wheezy is also in sources.list as some of these install from wheezy with no dependency issues.
    sudo aptitude update
    sudo aptitude install libwebkit-dev python-dev libdbi-dev
    sudo aptitude install dh-autoreconf flex
    sudo aptitude install libgmp-dev -t wheezy
  2. Build GnuCash deb package 2.4.8 from source, the follow method will ignore dependencies on libAqBanking (and build without that feature):
    apt-get source guile-1.8 -twheezy
    apt-get source gnucash -twheezy
    export MAKEFLAGS=-j5
    cd guile-1.8
    # Hack package by stopping tests being run - on my system I have ipv6 disabled atm which caused the self-test to fail?
    echo 'override_dh_auto_test:' >> debian/rules
    dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -b
    cd ..
    sudo dpkg -i guile-1.8_*.deb guile-1.8-libs*.deb
    cd gnucash-2.4.8
    DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS="parallel=5" fakeroot debian/rules binary
    cd ..
    sudo dpkg -i gnucash*.deb python-gnucash*.deb

Note that the option parallel=5 should in theory invoke make -j5 to enable use of multiple cores to speed up the build. In practice this may not happen due to possible bugs in packaging so it may pay to export MAKEFLAGS=-j5 as well…

Things I discovered along the way

Gnucash (and probably many other packages) seem to ignore the recommended use of DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS as a mechanism for passing additional options through to configure, which is disappointing


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