[Desktop_architects] Packaging Issues (was: Summary of DAM-3)

Gordon Hopper g.hopper at computer.org
Fri Apr 13 15:15:41 PDT 2007

Some very good points.  We are discussing similar issues on the
packaging list.  I invite you to join us and continue this discussion



> Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 14:24:34 -0700
> From: Bryce Harrington <bryce at linux-foundation.org>
> Subject: Re: [Desktop_architects] Summary of DAM-3
> To: Mike Hearn <mike at plan99.net>
> Cc: Desktop_architects <Desktop_architects at lists.osdl.org>
> Message-ID: <20070412212434.GA29318 at linux-foundation.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2007 at 10:50:11PM +0200, Mike Hearn wrote:
> > > At OpenWengo, we have a youngish application which has not yet been
> > > included in distributions, so we're in the unenviable position that most
> > > commercial software companies find themselves
> >
> > Right, exactly. There's tons of open source stuff out there that isn't
> > included in distributions for various random reasons. So it becomes
> > 3rd party, like commercial apps.
> All software, open and proprietary, is sort of in this same boat.  When
> we started Inkscape it took a year or more before we were included in
> many distributions.  Early on in our project we handled all the
> packaging ourselves for redhat, suse, mandrake, debian, etc.  In most
> cases we were lucky to have a passionate user of the given distro to
> take care of the packaging for us, we just blessed their work as
> official and let them upload new revisions to our servers.
> Mike Hearn's Autopackage was also instrumental during this phase,
> because many times the RPM's didn't work, or we lacked a package for a
> given platform, so autopackage gave everyone a second chance to get
> an inkscape binary up and running.
> In time, as our userbase grew and depended on inkscape, the distros
> heard and they were able to take over the packaging duties.  In some
> cases they were able to use the package scripts our community members
> had set up.  These days for packaging the only systems we really have to
> worry about are windows and osx.  And we see a HUGE difference in
> our support burden for windows and osx, vs. Linux where we have a distro
> layer to screen bugs and handle packaging and distribution for us for
> free.
> The amount of time distros will put into your software seems to work out
> proportionately to how important the software is to the end users.  They
> appreciate it if the upstream provider is willing to accept bug reports
> from the distro and does packaging and building in a manner consistent
> with other software.  I imagine much of this holds true whether the
> software is open, or closed-but-free.
> For true 3rd party closed source software that is sold per-box, I'm not
> sure what best practices are.  It would be interesting to know to what
> extent distros work with companies operating with traditional commercial
> software models.
> It would be interesting to know how much of the porting effort is due to
> binary compatibility issues, and how much is just debugging installers?
> If the work is more the latter than the former, then I'd wonder if a
> good hybrid strategy would be to keep the app closed but open the
> installation scripts?
> Bryce
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