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Q: Howto rapidly develop/test without breaking local rpm db

Q: I want to fix bugs in/hack software I use (evolution, gaim,
network-manager, compiz etc.). I typically have RPMs installed. What is
the easiest way to have a development environment and a quick
debug-compile-test loop without breaking the local RPM DB.

* In particular, patching the .src.rpm and RPM rebuilding for each
debug-compile loop is a definite no (too slow).

* Similarly, 'sudo make install' is likely not an option (breaks local
rpm tracking).

* Per-package 'configure --prefix=..' is okay but requires chasing down
application nuances (some need global gconf updated, some try to load
plugins from outside the build tree, other applications and
desktop-shortcuts need to be changed to point to the patched version

* chroot jail (where I am comfortable doing a 'make install') seems too
heavy weight.

How do I rapidly develop/test on an RPM-managed box? 


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