On most distributions, cross-compilation is often handled by special-purpose tools, entirely separate from the distribution’s package manager. This presents a number of difficulties, including having to deal with how building a package for the target architecture may require additional tools on the host system – an obstacle that must be resolved manually. And, while the tool can resolve dependencies on the target and the package manager can do the same for the host, neither can interoperate with the other.
Exherbo’s new multi-arch strategy instead adds cross-compilation as a built-in feature of the package manager, enabling seamless handling of such issues. This permits a single host system to compile packages for any supported target architecture (which can also be incompatible), without requiring the user to provide manual intervention or custom-built toolchains.
Multi-arch has been worked on for about three years now and the final merge was prepared over the last month. Work continues towards converting packages to take full advantage of the new technology, and all contributions are welcome.
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