Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Nov 2007 21:09 UTC, submitted by diegocg
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Canonical is announcing the availability of PPA: a Launchpad-integrated free service which allows anyone to get 1 GB of space to upload whatever software they want. Launchpad will compile it automatically and will set up an apt repository with your package to anyone who wants to use it. Aditionally, PPAs offer bug reporting and translation services.
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by Timmmm on Tue 27th Nov 2007 21:50 UTC
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Seems like a good idea. It's unfortunate that something like this is required. I would have hoped that by now the linux distros & gcc developers would have worked together so that binaries might be work across the various system configurations.

As it stands, windows remains the undisputed king of backwards (and perhaps more importantly, forwards) compatibility. Until this is fixed, developers will continue to only offer source code for linux.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Patch...
by malept on Tue 27th Nov 2007 22:05 in reply to "Patch..."
malept Member since:

I assume that openSUSE's build service ( ) helps/will help with this.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Patch...
by butters on Wed 28th Nov 2007 02:15 in reply to "Patch..."
butters Member since:

I think, if I understand you correctly, that you're missing the point. The free software ecosystem is fundamentally incompatible with the binary "build once run anywhere forever" mentality. The various distribution projects have different goals, release cycles, and administration tools. The lingua franca of the community is the source tarball.

The trend to which PPA belongs (including a similar service from openSUSE, not sure about Fedora) is the automation of building and packaging processes for various free software platforms. By uploading source tarballs and patches to these services, developers are able to ensure that users of these platforms have access to binary packages automatically prepared for easy installation on their systems.

It's a "push" process that requires developers to take the initiative to make their projects available on a selection of platforms, but it makes this task as easy as possible. Furthermore, if a package becomes popular on a certain platform, its community can take over the initiative in starting to "pull" from upstream. Think of this as a way for developers to get their foot in the door of a major distribution project and gain the exposure needed to become a part of the official repositories.

Don't hold your breath waiting for unified binary compatibility across the free software ecosystem. Especially as free software is aggressively moving onto post-PC hardware platforms and pursuing more appliance-like turnkey solutions, the flexibility of source code will remain a crucially important competitive advantage.

Source code got us where we are today, and it will take us wherever we need to go tomorrow. Part of the free software vision is to demonstrate not only that proprietary software is repressive for users, but also for distributors. PPA highlights the fact that free software makes practical sense for distributors, and the more users demand diversity, the more freedom will triumph over secrecy.

Reply Parent Score: 19

RE[2]: Patch...
by SReilly on Wed 28th Nov 2007 17:03 in reply to "RE: Patch..."
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Hear hear!

Thanks you, butters, for so eloquently voicing what I have been unable to for years!

Every so often, I run smack bang into the assumption that for some reason, Linux needs to support binary only code across distros. I have tried to explain that the whole Linux ecosystem needs to be viewed from a completely different perspective but have either failed miserably to express myself properly, was talking to some one unable to grasp this concept or, more often than not, a bit of both.

Invariably, I end up stating that Linux would not be where it is if cross distro binary compatibility was a real issue. To this, most people's answer is that unless the situation changes, Linux will not evolve beyond it's current point. As I have had this argument for several years running, it's quite obvious that the latter statement has proven to be untrue.

I can see the point of cross distro binary compatibility and do agree that it would be a great means of getting more desktop ISVs on board, but only in the short term and at the expense of software vendors opening up their code (or, failing that, start offering solutions based on FLOSS). I feel, and think that many others will agree with me on this, that by showing the world just how far FLOSS has come, in the very short space of time it has been around, we can get more companies to start adopting FLOSS as their preferred development method.

I'm not going to start preaching to the converted, so I wont go into too much depth but I do think that Linus's analogy of the situation sums up what I am trying to say and that basically, closed source software is akin to alchemy while FLOSS is closer to science, i.e. open to peer review.

As I'm sure you have noticed, when even FLOSS's most ardent opponent starts creating FLOSS licenses and opening up code, there has got to be at least some truth to what Linus says.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Patch...
by Temcat on Wed 28th Nov 2007 21:36 in reply to "RE: Patch..."
Temcat Member since:

Unified binaries are needed for Linux to grow beyond of the hobbyist/enthusiast market. And it won't do it if you don't create comfortable environment for proprietary software, for reasons that I'm lazy to discuss tonight. Maybe it doesn't need such growth, but this is another question.

Lack of unified binaries creates duplication of packager work (go ask VMWare) and user frustration. They shouldn't and needn't be the primary means of packaging, but every distro that calls itself a desktop - whatever its native packaging system is - should support an alternative, optional unified packaging system. So that I could conveniently install Photoshop for Linux (hehe) bought and downloaded via CNR (hehe) in any desktop distro I choose.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Patch...
by mabhatter on Thu 29th Nov 2007 03:53 in reply to "RE: Patch..."
mabhatter Member since:

I think you have the key point. This would build against Ubuntu's included packages as much as possible because it's their servers. Like you say, this gets the "foot in the door" so that all the packages can be represented in some fashion. A small developer can post to sourceforge and some of these PPAs and cover 90% of their base with minimal testing and such.
This is a good balance between raw independence and ubuntu having to do everything.

The goal of Shuttleworth, I think is to have package maintainers work directly in Ubuntu's system, as well as others. Forget the "ivory tower" of Debian where a select few "approve" stable releases and hold everybody back. Also forget the corporate Red Hat that absorbs and "tweaks" projects to their specs so far out of the mainstream that it's useless to give back to the community without lots of work. (issue is that rpms don't "just work" on RH, Suse, Mandriva.. it's all just a bit different) Ubuntu is hitting a wall with doing the maintenance on their own. Shuttleworth is smart to fix the problem not the symptom and make distro management and package building more acceptable to programmers directly rather than trying to root around the internet trying to pull stuff in and fix it up. Ubuntu is in the packaging and supporting enterprise business... directing traffic, not getting drug down into splitting hairs over code. It's very similar to how Linus works by letting others build on their own then he pull in the best options as "official".

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Patch...
by jessta on Wed 28th Nov 2007 03:55 in reply to "Patch..."
jessta Member since:

Yep, Windows is the king of backwards compatibility.
But in a free software world backwards compatibility is much less important. If things change developers just update their software to work with the new changes.
This might sound like extra work but is hardly a problem for an active project. It also means less broken legacy code or APIs that need to be supported.

Microsoft refuses to send out patches for some security issues because they will break compatiblity, this is very bad.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Patch...
by mabhatter on Thu 29th Nov 2007 04:02 in reply to "RE: Patch..."
mabhatter Member since:

the "Windows" view is that software is a shiny disc. You sell it, you support it if you have to, you sit in a tower and put out a new version when you want people to pay you more money. Software is a "done" thing... dead once it's out the door.

Free Software is alive, in use, being modified for users RIGHT NOW, not in the next version in 6 months... fixing little things from time-to-time is much easier than trying to fix ALL the bug in one shot so the company can sit back another 9 months or year.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Patch... - your comparing one to many
by jabbotts on Wed 28th Nov 2007 14:42 in reply to "Patch..."
jabbotts Member since:

Windows is Windows. The kernel changes but the libraries are all there back to the dawn of Dos. It's one repeatedly rebranded OS from a single controlling company.

This is where the confusion comes in; Linux is not an OS but the kernel at the core of many different and distinct posix inspired OS made from commodity parts assembled differently by each distrobution.

Mandriva != Debian != Red Hat != Ubuntu != Mint. These are all seporate but similar OS. They are all very similar and they all use the same kernel at there core but they are all slightly different depending on the goals of the distribution.

Now here's the kicker, Linux based OS prize choice instead of end user lockin. A standard would be nice but then we'd all have one distribution to choose from like y'all stuck in the smaller but more popular Windows world. One size does not fit all needs though so different "standards" are applied to different needs for the best solution in that specific case. Don't like a standard; try a different distribution or learn the simplicity of tarball -> make -> make install.

Comparing Windows to Linux based OS just doesn't result in a valid analysis. Yes we all do it but if you remove the religion, remove the purely emotional basis and compare purely on technical attributes they become simply uncomparible. Direct comparisons are not trully possible.

Good for windows supporting MS programming bugs all the way back to Dos. The primary goal of the Windows product line is to retain complete compatability (maintain barriers to change for users).

I'm personally glad that there are hundreds of different Linux based OS to choose from. Windows runs my games but the freedom of choice and a fully configurable system runs everything outside of video games for me very nicely.

Thus endyth my off topic rant.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Patch...
by noamsml on Wed 28th Nov 2007 19:56 in reply to "Patch..."
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Binaries *are* compatible. Packages are a different manner, but binary compatibility is already there.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Patch...
by wirespot on Wed 28th Nov 2007 23:28 in reply to "Patch..."
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I would have hoped that by now the linux distros & gcc developers would have worked together so that binaries might be work across the various system configurations.

Strangely enough, often they do. My Debian responds to 'rpm -qa' and lists winetools and cedega. It's not uncommon for me to install debs meant for Ubuntu.

The main difference is the package format. There are of course considerations to be given to distro integration, which is why I won't insist on installing "foreign" packages too often. But down at binary level a package will work on many distributions if they match fairly current releases of the libraries it was linked against.

Reply Parent Score: 4