Linked by Thomas Leonard on Tue 16th Jan 2007 00:32 UTC
General Development In the Free and Open Source communities we are proud of our 'bazaar' model, where anyone can join in by setting up a project and publishing their programs. Users are free to pick and choose whatever software they want... provided they're happy to compile from source, resolve dependencies manually and give up automatic security and feature updates. In this essay, I introduce 'decentralised' installation systems, such as Autopackage and Zero Install, which aim to provide these missing features.
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RE: B.A.D idea
by butters on Tue 16th Jan 2007 04:41 UTC in reply to "B.A.D idea"
butters
Member since:
2005-07-08

Like the other poster said, there is a difference between package format and package compatibility. You might not realize how similar .rpm and .deb files are to one another. In fact, most of the spec is identical.

The differences lie in package management and package compatibility. For example, we see that rpm has lots of different management systems: yum, urpmi, and yast come to mind. The APT equivalent of rpm is dpkg, but people simply refer to the Debian-derived system as APT because it is more-or-less the de-facto management system for dpkg.

Further, distributions often change the dependencies, add/remove patches, and even change the names of packages they port from other distros to play well on their systems. The name of the Xorg server package, for example, is different on many distributions, and each distro uses different distro-specific patches.

Could this be made simpler? Yes... but the distros hide this complexity from the user. It is mainly more complex for the distributor and its packagers instead of for the end users.

Speaking of which, this whole distributed vs. centralized package management debate represents a tradeoff--shifting work between upstream and the distributor. With distributed packages, the burden is on the upstream developer to get their package working on as many distros as possible. With centralized packaging, the burden is on the distributor to get as many upstream packages to work on their distro.

Guess what? Developers hate packaging! They want their job to be done as soon as their source tree builds and runs properly. Distributors, on the other hand, are essentially packaging machines. Packaging is what they do best. Why not leave things as they are? Let the developers code, and let the distributors package.

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