VectorLinux

The Vectorian Lounge => The Lounge => Topic started by: Windozer on December 14, 2008, 11:30:15 am

Title: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Windozer on December 14, 2008, 11:30:15 am
For your consideration, please:

An experienced, but non-Unix, user looking into Linux for the first time encounters package mania:

Duhhh, distro flavor X uses Package Manager what?

Caitlyn's review 1) of VL 5.9 mentions that "While the number of packaged applications for Vector Linux continues to grow rapidly it still falls far short of what is available for distributions like Debian, Mandriva, Ubuntu, [...]" 

I've been wondering about this a while - not just for VL, which I love, but also for other distros, like Pelican HPC (formerly parallexknoppix) which I use, but does debian. And each of us has our own alternate  ;) favorite distro.

Ubuntu repositories are mind boggling in scope.  And a search 2) shows a lot of interest in the idea of a "universal package manager." Is it crazy to hope for a package manager than can recognize which distro it's targeting, one that can also determine library and module dependencies?  Is there a mambo bash script out there that I've missed?

Would it have to build everything from source to achieve cross-distro installation of packages?

And if GNUUCPM3)  is too much of a mouthful, how about simply PackMan ?   :P

thanks for your time and attention,
- Howard in Florida
~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) http://www.oreillynet.com/linux/blog/2008/03/taking_a_good_long_look_at_vec.html (http://www.oreillynet.com/linux/blog/2008/03/taking_a_good_long_look_at_vec.html)
2) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=linux+package+manager+all+distros&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq= (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=linux+package+manager+all+distros&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=)
3) GNU + UUCP + CPM - aren't I a clever boy?  8)
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: bigpaws on December 14, 2008, 02:42:42 pm
Would it be wrong to see the simple question why doesn't every distro do
the same thing? 

So why is it that anyone would use Slackware vs Debian? Why tolerate the
differences in tools, and configuration?

The term experienced user, is not much of an indicator to real ability. I started to
go further on that but decided it would become OT.

The reason is that the old distributions made choices about who, what, when, where and
why. There are those that want things just done blindly, install all the things needed then
go on. There are others that feel the previous way can lead to several problems, cross
package versions to mind. When you need to fix these things it can become a real chore.

I am only adding thought. There are many opinions and each carries its own merit. There is
another post about the effect of a virus in a package. Think about it, one package source for
all. Easy way to take everyone down.

Bigpaws

Bigpaws
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: metvas on December 15, 2008, 08:25:19 am
Very good point bigpaws !! Another O/S comes to mind with that frame of thought. LOL
metvas
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: tomh38 on December 15, 2008, 01:05:44 pm
Package managers are actually really nice compared to what you have to do with commercial software.  Still, I understand that the various "families" of Linux distributions present some confusion for people new to the OS.  Maybe the OSS community will pick up M0E's vpackager (which I've found to be of great help) to bridge the gap.

Tom
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Joe1962 on December 15, 2008, 02:04:19 pm
There has been an attempt at such a thing for quite a few years now and they seem to be still alive... ;)

http://autopackage.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopackage
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on December 15, 2008, 04:28:35 pm
There has been an attempt at such a thing for quite a few years now and they seem to be still alive... ;)

http://autopackage.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopackage


It would be easier to start manufacturing Terminators than to abstract package management from the distribution successfully.

In fact I believe there is already a Terminator plant in Kaohsiung.
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Windozer on December 17, 2008, 05:11:47 pm
Quote
[autopackage is] still alive... - Joe1962

Interesting, thanks for the links, Joe. This is sort of what I had in mind, except more for kernel items, which autopackage seems to steer clear of. Yes, I am beginning to understand the virus problems with such an idea. But couldn't a group of people scrub a package before releasing it, as Bigpaws mentions the BSD folks doing? Hmmm... Volunteers are already in short supply. This would indeed add another step to releases. Maybe would worth the effort, if it widened the scope of possibilities?

Quote
M0E's vpackager (which I've found to be of great help - Tomh38

Yes, Tom, cool that you mention vpackager - I am beginning to appreciate it the more understanding I gain. So too with VASM.

Quote
Would it be wrong to see the simple question why doesn't every distro do
the same thing?  - Bigpaws

If I'm clear about what you're asking us, Bigpaws. It seems reasonable that we users should expect one package manager for all the distro's. This is basically what I'm asking for  ;D

Quote
So why is it that anyone would use Slackware vs Debian? Why tolerate the differences in tools, and configuration? - Bigpaws

Had to think about this a while, but choosing a distro seems to come down to four basic things (if we exclude "look and feel"):


So, in an odd way, no distro is really that different --- most all pack a 2.6 Penguin under the hood  :P

Is there a technical reason why (cross-distro) releases aren't possible?
Or is this question just way too complicated for a simple answer?


thanks
- H
~~~~
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on December 17, 2008, 05:42:57 pm
Had to think about this a while, but choosing a distro seems to come down to three basic things (if we exclude "look and feel"):

You forgot system administration.

linuxconf tried to abstract details of system administration away from the user.

linuxconf is now a defunct project.
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Windozer on December 17, 2008, 05:46:58 pm
@EFG: duly noted and modified above, thanks - H
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on December 17, 2008, 05:49:34 pm
That fourth one is the most important of all.

It's not like Windows, Mac or *BSD where you know where this, that and the other are, simply by virtue of the operating system being Windows, Mac or *BSD.
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Windozer on December 17, 2008, 06:54:28 pm
Do you mean in terms of the file system(s) or parms in config files?
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on December 17, 2008, 07:40:22 pm
Yes, mainly. But there would also have to be agreement on issues that affect packaging. For instance, RPM and Debian dists have separate 'developer' packages containing headers and static libraries. But Slackware and derivatives do not do that.
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: bigpaws on December 17, 2008, 10:13:38 pm
Quote
This is sort of what I had in mind, except more for kernel items, which autopackage seems to steer clear of.

There is a reason for this. Some distributions heavily patch kernels.

Quote
But couldn't a group of people scrub a package before releasing it, as Bigpaws mentions the BSD folks doing?

Only OpenBSD does complete auditing for things that are under them. This does not include the
other BSD's in practice. Why not just compile from source, every distribution should be able to do
that?

Quote
It seems reasonable that we users should expect one package manager for all the distro's.

Those types of demands will be met with alot of flaming and resistance.

Quote
Had to think about this a while, but choosing a distro seems to come down to four basic things (if we exclude "look and feel"):

    * How the kernel is configured
    * What device drivers are available
    * What applications are available
    * System administration  Grin

In the distributions that you have tried have you looked at a kernel config? Next device drivers, in reality these are modules. All which are included in the kernel. Applications available are you refering
to packaged applications or applications?

I applaud your question. IMHO is that you are missing several things.

A. Why there are so many distributions, for one reason or another someone felt that it should be done their way.

B. The one philosophy to make one program to do one thing and do it well

C. The denial of freedom to do something differently


There are fundamentals in Linux although they have been diluted to the point of almost non existance. That is not a feature.

Lets' think about it this way. You (general term representing those you have stated want this) are
demanding changes so that you do can do what you want irregardless of the problems. You are
demanding a unified (since this is what it would take) group to bow to your wishes. That is not the
best approach at least in the way I see it.

So many times I see posts in irc or forums mentioning not to go the a specific distributions forums or irc since you will get flamed. Those guys are elitist and have no time for a newbie. When in fact it is
those places that will not only help you but teach you why. However there is a catch, you have to ask an intelligent question. The question having all of the information needed to help and that you have tried doing something to fix it yourself. This is not the what is happening. This does not mean that you
can not ask how to get my video card working its that you should have prepared a good question and where your problem lies. If you do not wish to learn and just want to have it answered expect to pay for it, another type of choice.

Start looking at the root directories at least glance at them. Look at some philosophy about Linux in some older literature. This may bring to a path of enlightenment.

Bigpaws
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: uelsk8s on December 17, 2008, 10:29:07 pm
bigpaws,
Your post reminded me of this: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: tomh38 on December 17, 2008, 11:14:59 pm
Everybody's making good points.

The various distros (and the various "families") of distros aren't going away; at least I hope they're not, since many of them exist because they serve different needs.

What I wrote about vpackager probably wasn't very clear.  I've thought about it a little more and have a clearer idea. Vpackager or something like it would address the problem of "if it's not in the repos you can't have it."  As things are it isn't that difficult for many in the Linux community to compile from source, but vpackager or something like it could make it easier for those who have less skill at doing that to get software for their systems.

I realize there are dangers in that as well.

Tom
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: Windozer on December 20, 2008, 06:28:04 pm
[ This is a tad long ...]

Tom, yes this is part of what I was thinking about - availablity and ease of use.

Quote
Some distributions heavily patch kernels. - Bigpaws
So I'd imagine that the further into the system you go, the more difficult it would be to have a generic packager.

Quote
Why not just compile from source [...]?
Yes, I too am thinking along the lines Tom said immediately above. Something like vpackager - or a "maker's make" as many scripts are, would make the build easier, because a developer familar with another platform, or even another distro won't necessarily know where all the *stuff* is.

I'm beginning to appreciate the way Gentoo does it, using XML.

@Epic: XML could easily reflect altered, non-standard directories, files, parms, etc. It would be cake to imitate the file system paths using XML, in fact, the XML tags indentation could look exactly like the directory structure. This way, it wouldn't matter a hoot where something was - as long as the XML doc reflected it exactly.

Quote
It seems reasonable that we users should expect one package manager for all the distro's. - Windoze
Quote
Those types of demands will be met with alot of flaming and resistance. -Bigpaws

Oh, sorry, B.P., I didn't mean to make this sound like a demand, rather more like "what if the world could be more perfect?"  ;D
(Aside to Epic: I can't almost hear your knuckles cracking as you go for a reply to that one
 ^^^  :P  ;D)

And especially not to sound like demands from an unified group, such as Linux Users Local Union #222

Quote
In the distributions that you have tried have you looked at a kernel config? - B.P.

Yes, I have reviewed at least 10 0r 12 distros and eval'ed some configs. Did a few builds from source too. As configs are so diverse and complicated, usually just went with defaults as recommend, tweeking little. Took whatever drivers were found (with the udev thingy?), manually loaded a couple of d.drivers. Also wrote my own, simple character device driver from sample code - and it worked! Whaahooo.  But UUUUGGGG - configuring is the stuff that got me wondering about a unified way to do all this.

Quote
... Applications available are you refering to packaged applications or applications?
Not sure I'm following you there, Bigpaws.  Do you mean kernel-level packages, versus user apps, like say OpenOffice?

Quote
I applaud your question. IMHO is that you are missing several things.
Thanks. Yes, I knew there would be - indeed, I was hoping for your input.

Quote
Lets' think about it this way. You (general term representing those you have stated want this) are demanding changes so that you do can do what you want irregardless of the problems. You are demanding a unified (since this is what it would take) group to bow to your wishes. That is not the best approach at least in the way I see it.

Actually, Bigpaws, you might be misreading me, but that's probably my fault because this thread started out open ended.
(Aside to uelsk8s: very cool link - think I'll print that whole thing out and read it! <g> Might not make a bad sticky thread in the forum help/faq section.)

Let me see if I can properly address your thought above. The main intention of a unified packager would be to make things easier and smoother, not to avoid problems. On the contrary, if the entire linux user base had the same "PackMan" wouldn't there be more people finding and fixing a problem? And if the problem is beyond my skill set, I sure hope they fix it - and make the repair easy. This is the kind of stuff that scares off people from using Linux, IMO.  Also - and certainly this has been discussed a lot on the net - many people don't want or need to know what's going on under the hood. If our assistant needs "office" to write docs, that thing should slam dunk into the system, so he or she can start working on a doc, not on figuring out how the installer works.

Another example before I jump off my hobby horse... I'm setting up a small PBX using land lines mixed with VoIP.  A friend has recently done the same for his office. He suggested "trixbox,"  a version of Asterix http://www.asterisk.org/ (http://www.asterisk.org/), running on some flavor of Linux. Aside from installing, setting up a few IP addresses, and a tad of tweaking, it runs out of the box, so to say. I can spend my time troubleshooting the telephone stuff, instead of hacking strange *nix parameters.

Please understand that I love hacking and learning about Linux - but only for fun, not when I'm being responsible to someone else.

Quote
[...] you should have prepared a good question and where your problem lies.
I couldn't agree with you more...

Quote
If you do not wish to learn and just want to have it answered expect to pay for it, another type of choice.
Here, I take you to me the generic "you" as mentioned above... again I couldn't agree more.

Although it is, as you pointed out, OK to ask for help. Obviously, the better formed and focused the question is, the more specific the help will be. Flaming a newbee because they didn't know the right question is lame. Flaming them because they were clearly lazy is another matter.

Quote
Start looking at the root directories at least glance at them. Look at some philosophy about Linux in some older literature. This may bring to a path of enlightenment.

Indeed. Dig!

Go XML?


cheers, and thanks,
Howard in Florida
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Title: Re: Grand New Unified Universal Component and Package Manager ?
Post by: bigpaws on December 20, 2008, 08:03:36 pm
Quote
Let me see if I can properly address your thought above. The main intention of a unified packager would be to make things easier and smoother, not to avoid problems. On the contrary, if the entire linux user base had the same "PackMan" wouldn't there be more people finding and fixing a problem?

Probably not, that reduces the freedom in Linux and may drive the older group to another OS. It is not
that what you are proposing is not fully possible. Mostly due to install locations. Imagine writing an install script that is looking for a file to test from, but the file exists in another location. The script would fail. Yes you can write a script to grep by distribution but that adds even more complexity.

Quote
This is the kind of stuff that scares off people from using Linux, IMO.  Also - and certainly this has been discussed a lot on the net - many people don't want or need to know what's going on under the hood. If our assistant needs "office" to write docs, that thing should slam dunk into the system, so he or she can start working on a doc, not on figuring out how the installer works.

One that not needing to know what is going on is why Windows is the way it is. The average user gets a new machine to run more malware since the problem is an old computer not malware. That is a bad thought process and a very good reason that the spam situation is what it is. Alot of ppl will use a car analogy, but the rest of not knowing how a car operates are the consequences for operating a car. 

The assistant you refer to. I would guess that you are using an office environment. It is the job of the
administrator to install these things not the assistant's job. The Unix philosophy is to seperate the system from the user. These are very specific roles. Anything outside of the users directory is a job for an administrator.

You mention XML what is that advantage of XML vs standard writing? Why should I be required as an administrator to do all the tagging instead of just creating standard variables? That question is not to ponder. Why XML before anything else?

Quote
I can spend my time troubleshooting the telephone stuff, instead of hacking strange *nix parameters.

Am I to understand that if you do not understand it then it should be changed?

Quote
Please understand that I love hacking and learning about Linux - but only for fun, not when I'm being responsible to someone else.

Then would I guess that since you do not understand Linux that anyone using it would be irresponsible?

I could continue with this, I did but felt that it would go towards a flame and unproductive. I have tried to answer your question to the best of my ability. In my years I have found it productive to question the way of things after understanding the history and principles of something. Without taking the time to do that would not create a productive conversation.

When I came to Unix and Linux environment I was lost. If it wasn't done the MS way it had to be wrong. After taking the time to learn the history and philosophy I changed my mind in that why did
MS change the way things were done. The light that I had was when I stopped looking at things as
if it should be Windows. I learned to use look at each OS independantly without prejudice. This allows me to look at and solve the problems irregardless of OS. So the end user gets what works for them not  what fits for me.

Unix has a very long history. Through changes that could not have been anticipated, yet it still thrives. There was a definite plan in design and use. MS shunned the old school principles and now look at what they are trying to do with XP, and Vista.

Bigpaws