Trying to get the Image::Magick libraries and accompanying perl modules* installed via RPM, I am reminded of the kinds of reasons I happily ditched Linux in favor of Mac OS X Server — RPM Hell is… hell. In my previous Linux explorations, as in this current venture, it seems that the majority of my RPM experiences have gone badly, or require way too much effort to resolve. Install of package A depends on presence of Package B. But B requires C, although A has no awareness of its need for C. Each RPM must be specifically built for your specific distro and version, or chaos follows. Some install says you don’t have but need some other install, but when you go to install it you’re told you already have it. Try to uninstall it and are told you don’t have it. And so on.
Building from source is easy in principle, but failure is an all-too-frequent possibility. Building Image::Magick on RH9 has been an abysmal failure, even with direct assistance from the developers. There are too many distributions with too many differences for Linux devs to guarantee any particular experience on any particular machine for any particular package. Support forums may or may not yield useful help.
Biodiversity may be that which has allowed Linux to live through hard times, but it remains a thorn in the side for ease of use — and ease of use applies to sysadmins as well as users.
* ImageMagick does a zillion things — MovableType uses it to build thumbnails of uploaded images on the fly, among other things.