Package Management

April 5, 2009

With a new Linux distribution comes new ideas and a new group of people who are set to dispel issues they think make communites and software defunked in some sense. It’s goals and direction is fresh and new. With Unity Linux these new people and ideas issue in new ways or more then one way to handle system functions. One of these functions would be package (application) management. Most if not all of us coming from PCLinuxOS were very much accustomed to the combination of apt4rpm and Synaptic.  Apt4rpm was the reworking of apt. Apt was/is a debian based package management system. Connectiva developers reworked apt to handle RPMs instead of DEBs. So it could support RedHat based distributions. Time has passed now (so has connectiva) and for the most part development on Apt4rpm has stopped. Also support for Apt4rpm in the Synaptic frontend (What the user sees and uses) has begun to be lacking. To continue on and to prepare for the future another set of applications must me able to be as user friendly as the Synaptic frontend has been, to have a striving development community, and support a package management system with the same attributes. At the same time repository compatibility may become and issue because most of the PCLinuxOS remasters that Unity has acquired use a Apt based repository. So that’s one more thing this new package management backend must handle. Enter SMART and PackageKit.  SMART was created by some of the same developers from connectiva that did Apt4rpm and seems to have one goal in mind to do a better job then all the other backends. PackageKit seems to have the same goal in mind as a package management frontend. Not only does it support SMART as a backend but multiple backends as well. URPMI, YUM and APT to name a few. Not only does it support more backends then Synaptic its gtk version competes on the same level of user friendliness as Synaptic. There’s also a Qt4 based frontend called KPackageKit. Hopefully if all goes well, we’ll see the adoption of these applications in Untiy. Yes, their vibrant communities and development teams will allow Unity to advance towards the future, but both applications feature sets alone will add more functionality and in the end a better experience for the user. This won’t be the last post about the two, expect updates and more detailed description of their functionality in the near future.


One Response to “Package Management”

  1. It will be interesting to see what package manager is chosen in the end. Smart+PackageKit is getting the maximum support as of now within the devs.

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