[lsb-discuss] Some thoughts about the recent packaging discussion

Theodore Tso tytso at MIT.EDU
Sat Mar 1 10:55:15 PST 2008

Looking at the packaging discussion thread over the past week, I have
a few comments and observations.

1) Commercial ISV's will continue to use non-Linux specific packaging
solutions.  They need to support platforms other than Linux, and users
are customed to graphical or text-based style installers such as those
provided by Oracle, DB2, SAP R/3, etc., because (a) that's what their
customers expect and want, and (b) they need a cross-OS solution.

2) To the extent that there are people on the
packaging at lists.linux-foundation.org who disagree with this, it's not
worth arguing with them.  ISV's will do what they want to do.

3) The Berlin API provides a useful addition to distributions that are
willing to accept patches to their package management systems so that
users who *do* install commercial ISV packages can more easily
uninstall them.  If a distribution is going to spit in the wind, or
refuse to implement patches which we donate to allow 3rd party
installers to register files created by said installer to a package
name so that a user can easily remove said package later, that is not
a disaster.  

So if Debian for example says, "Nyet!  Nyet!  Nyet!  We will not do
anything to make life easier for those evil, commercial ISV's; Debian
is only about Free Software!!!", it's not the end of the world.
Either the dpkg maintainer will accept the patches, and the people who
flame on debian-legal and debian-project can just keep on flaming, and
pounding their shoes on the table, or whatever.  Even if the dpkg
maintainer decides not to take the patch, on Debian, the berlin API
can just be a no-op.  That means that on Debian, a 3rd party
commercial product which is installed, can't be easily removed unless
the 3rd party provide provides their own "uninstall.sh" script.  But
that's no different than it is today, and while it's annoying to end
users, it's really not the end of the world.

(This is also true of the RPMv5 maintainer says the same thing; but
given that as far as I know no distro's are planning on using his code
base, it's even more pointless to try to argue with him.  :-)

4) It's approximately a week's work to actually implement the Berlin
API.  And this is at the point where it really is the case of "code
talks, bullsh*t walks".  We should simply schedule time to implement
the Berlin API, and then submit the patch for comments to the dpkg
maintainer, and the rpm maintainers at the various distro's using RPM.
Trying to convince the denizens of the packaging list doesn't seem
like it's very useful, and having touched base with the RPM/dpkg
maintainers, the next step is probably just to implement code and we
can restart the discussion then --- and only with the people who need
to accept or reject our proposed patch.  And again, if some distro
refuses to accept the patch, it just means that 3rd party commercial
ISV package can't be uninstalled on that distro, which makes them no
worse (but no better) than they are today.


						- Ted

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