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

Jeff Licquia jeff at licquia.org
Sat Mar 1 16:33:32 PST 2008

Alan Cox wrote:
> There is a right way to solve the problem, which is to make it strongly
> in the interest of the ISVs to use the standard packaging format on
> Linux. There are cases that are a bit weird (like java) but for the
> general case the answer isn't to insult everyone and try and make the LSB
> dictate standards (which will merely dictate its demise) but to make the
> packaging system actually solve the real remaining problems ISVs have.

As a general rule, I agree.  The reason this proposal has seen the light 
of day is that very, very few ISVs have agreed, and some have quite 
strongly disagreed.  We have been told by some of our ISVs that distro 
packaging is, quite simply, a deal-breaker for supporting Linux.

Some of the problems have to do with deficiencies in package managers, 
which can be solved; some, however, come from the fact that package 
management as we know it is nonexistent on the dominant platform.

> So instead of insulting Debian people how about making the supporting
> tools for rpm format binary packaging simply irresistable. For the LSB
> binary side format that means stuff like "zip2rpm" and other things which
> are anathema to source/binary control as rpm is used in free software,
> and adding pointy clicky "packageme" tools plus makefile scriptable bits
> for "add scripts, set description, pack tar file into rpm and ship"

We intend to do these kinds of things as well, but they don't have to be 
exclusive of each other.

I think the problem is less one of any technical deficiency that package 
managers have, and more a problem that ISVs and users have had specific 
complaints about the difficulties of installing software on Linux, and 
have felt ignored.  So there is a level of skepticism on their part that 
we have any real intent to make their lives easier.

The Berlin approach has the advantage of addressing some of their 
problems directly.  I think it has value as a technology, but I also 
think that its greatest value may lie in the perception that we are 
finally, at long last, responding to some of their concerns.  This may 
help act as a waypoint towards convincing ISVs that packaging is really 
the best way to deploy software on Linux.

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