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Package Management vs. Reproducible Builds... Or Complementary Approaches?

· 9 min read
Christopher McArthur
C++ DevOps Expert

Let's face it, in the land of C++ development, package management and reproducible builds can feel like oil and water. Package managers promise lightning-fast builds with pre-built libraries, while reproducible builds preach control and consistency by rebuilding everything. But here's the thing: they're not sworn enemies.

Think of it this way.

Let's start with the basic build system. Imagine you're spending hours compiling your code. You throw more cores at the problem, and the build time shrinks – but there's a limit. Eventually, adding more cores won't magically make it compile any faster. Now imagine you don't build at all. Poof! Your build time is divided by zero, because it's not happening at all, it's just not a factor anymore. The most reproducible builds are the ones you don't have to repeat endlessly. That's where package management comes in, saving you from endless build marathons. Yet there's even more benefits for reproducibility as well.

This post will explore how these two seemingly opposing forces can actually work together to create a streamlined and efficient development workflow. Despite being a new idea, there is evidence of this already being used along with potential new opportunities for future development in this space.