Re: Precompiled Binary Package problem
well, what you don't get right, is the distribution policy.
of course, binary packages will never be as flexible as source ones, but you can strech the difference in a certain way.
about your gtkmxhtml-problem: in debian it has his own package as every other "sub"-library included in other libs. you can set your binary packages' prefix with giving the --root and --instdir-options at dpkg. and if you do a strip /usr/bin/* /usr/lib/*, you're on your way without debugging symbols.
what i'm trying to say is that with the right packaging system even your "evil" binary packages get calmed. There are some points you can never fix, e.g. it would be impossible to split every "hello world!" program's i18n-files into seperate packages as debian does it with kde2.0, but you could include i18n-files into your packaging system just like dpkg does it with configuration files. with some global configuration you can then decide wether you want to install all i18n-files or only some chosen ones.
and binary packages give you a lot of advantages, too. well, it's a difference from finding out that gimp needs gtk+ and that gimp suggests gtkmxhtml. and if you got it, where the hell do you find this damned gtkmxhtml. i had the same problem with when i tried to install gnome from source and had some unresoved symbols which caused gnome-core not to compile. i looked and looked and finally, i found that the problem was with gtkmxhtml, and i found it very good not to figure out all that little dependencies but just to do an apt-get install gtkmxhtml. and further, if you just to try out a new program, like i wanted with kde2, you perhaps don't want to compile thousands of lines of code but just to install it. and it is easier like this to delete programs you don't want, too.
but in the end, it's the how you want it. i know people who spend nights just to make their program some milliseconds faster. and those people don't want packages compiled for i386 at all.
finally, i want to say that i'm sure i'm not the only one who does all his porductive work under linux and does not test or develop applications. i just use linux, and i'm very pleased it seeing it only crashing very unsusually. even the alpha- and beta-marked programs (i used to use gnome 0.xx for a very long time until i got a potato cd with gnome 1.0 and later found a mirror with gnome 1.2 debs). perhaps you're a little bit behind your time, but linux is the most stable thing i know.
But as i don't work in a cpu-time eating company who crashes almost every machine once a week because of their high requirements, i can't say more to that. i'm just a user and a happy user.
pagin, convinced debian user =)
well, i don't use any rpm-based distribution (in other wirds: i'm totally debian-obsessed =), but i'm a fan of apt since i got that upgraded testversion of slink........
i hope too that this will create more compatibility between linux-distributions. there could be new distributors who offer ther distribution only via the web or some "new economy" startups who offer mirrors of all important distributions.