Installing software on Linux has gotten progressively easier over the years, down to being downright foolproof in Ubuntu’s Application Center. However, there is still the problem of each distribution relying on its own frontends and backends, and this needs to be addressed. Members from all the major Linux distributions have held several talks, and have come up with a solution which is already being implemented.
OStatic reports on the rather massive undertaking. Last week, at the SUSE offices in NÃ¼rnberg, developers from RedHat, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Mandriva and Mageia convened to talk about creating a universal installer and application store for all these various Linux distributions, bringing together various established technologies.
“More and more people in the Linux world realize that a nice application installer is needed to make the Linux platform more attractive for normal users and third party developers,” explains Frank Karlitschek, “The current package managers expose way too much complexity to the end users. The normal user doesn’t care about dependencies, libraries and other internals. But the user cares about things like screenshots, description texts, ratings, tags, comments, recommendation from friends and other features which current package managers don’t provide.”
During the talks in NÃ¼rnberg they already pretty much finalised the entire stack, and they already have a working server and frontend. Pretty impressive if you ask me – and once again proof that if you want to get things done, you just get them done, instead of talking about it for two years.
Anywho, this is how it’s supposed to work, according to OStatic.
The AppStream team think the Ubuntu Software Center is the right user interface and plans are to port it to PackageKit. They plan to use Xapian servers to provide search results for users and use Open Collaboration Services to allow user ratings and reviews. Metadata will be stored on a server which will hold package information, icon location, repository type and location, and such. A compose server will extract the package information from the .desktop file (which participating distributions will need to provide for each package) and output all the information to a common XML file. The AppStream user interface will be the front-end for PackageKit, which then will instruct the distribution’s package management system to install the desired application.
All the details are still a little blurry to me, mostly because I don’t think allt his hasn’t been officially announced yet, making it a little difficult to assess. Is this going to be the default? When will that happen? Are other distributions free to join in? More news is sure to follow.