Partial Response to "TechRadar: 20 things we'd change about installing software in Linux" with Solaris IPS [aka pkg(5) ]

TechRadar has an article today about "20 things we'd change about installing software in Linux" most of which is general good advice.  I found a few of the points very interesting considering how Solaris 11 Express is packaged using the Image Packaging System  (IPS); which was also used for OpenSolaris releases).

I've not commented on any of "the 20 things" that are to do with installing from source or packaging of source or filesystem layout since I don't believe they have anything to do with the packaging system, also IPS is by design a packaging system not a build and packaging system (like RPM).

"4. Easier adding of repositories"

We have that already with IPS in the form of .p5i files (see below).

"11. Get rid of -dev package hell"

The facet system in IPS packaging will help with this, if you are intending to build things from source you would set the appropriate facet and you would automatically get all the "developer" parts of packages.

"16. Link to package manager from web pages"

The .p5i file format allows for that for example "this link" points to the .p5i file in the Oracle Solaris 11 Express repository that will install the web/proxy/privoxy package.  If I click on that link on a Solaris system it will automatically start up the package manager to allow installation.  The .p5i file contains all the information necessary to add the appropriate repository (including any known mirrors and required certificates for SSL transport and any certificate information required for the package signing).  The .p5i files and links are automatically created when packages are published into a repository.

"20. Clean up old dependencies"

When uninstalling packages just specify the -r argument to "pkg uninstall" and it will recursively remove any packages 'require' dependencies on the initial package.  So that should catch many (but many be not all of these dependencies - since optional dependencies aren't removed by pkg uninstall -r).


Comments:

Facets are nice, however as far I understood they are an all/none situation which is bad, many times will be useful only install dev files from package A and B and not from all installed packages.

Posted by CA on January 10, 2011 at 05:55 AM GMT #

That RPM is capable of building and packaging is one of RPM's greatest strengths: it allows for an application to be completely transportable inside of an SRPM.

For example: I regularly develop on my PlayStation 3 running Yellowdog Linux. CPU is ppc64 based, platform is ppc64. When I am done, I can just run

rpmbuild -ba --clean --rmsource --rmspec ACMEdhcp.spec

and I'll end up with a shiny new SRPM in my ../SRPMS directory. Then I take the SRPM to an i86pc based system, and just run rpmbuild --rebuild --clean SRPMS/ACMEdhcp.spec... and guess what? I just ended up with the same application binary package in RPMS/i386/...

IPS can only dream of such encapsulation and ease of building. That's science fiction for IPS!!!

And of course, RPM has %pre, %post, %preun and %postun, or preinstall, postinstall, preremove and postremove like any other NORMAL, DECENT software management subsystem should and does have... except for IPS, which does not have that... on purpose!

With all its fancy features, IPS is useless for anything but delivering preconfigured bits, and SMF does not even have the necessary hooks into IPS (and vice versa) to even begin emulating preinstall, postinstall, preremove and postremove installation/removal context...

Steven Hahn was wrong!

Posted by UX-admin on January 10, 2011 at 12:28 PM GMT #

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