PackageManager for 2009.06

Package Manger What's Up for 2009.06

Well we have been busy over the past 6 months since the 2008.11 release and have added plenty of goodies. Michal has blogged about new performance improvements and Padraig's addition which gives you the ability to search across all repositories. I am going to discuss the new Start Page and WebInstall.

Start Page

So on startup, which is way faster now thanks to Michal's new caching support, you will see a Start Page instead of the list of packages. Just clicking on any category puts you into the list view and going to Help-> StartPage brings you back to the Start Page.

The Start Page gives us a way to point you at useful online resources, to find the latest packages, help and support. Just click on links in the Start Page to launch the page in Firefox. The Start Page is also something that can be updated and the system will check for updates daily as its refreshing the IPS Image catalog on the system, falling back to the default installed page if no updates are available. So say for instance when an interesting new repository is available we could point you to it from here.

Wouldn't it be nice if as well as pointing to this new repository, we were able to just have  a link on the Start Page for you to click on and have the new repository installed for you? Well that leads nicely onto Web Install.

Web Install

This is a new mode that Package Manager can be launched in to process a new mime type, namely application/vnd.pkg5.info. This mime type is bound to any .p5i file on you system or on any web page whose web server supports this mime type. All of the OpenSolaris websites will have this support added.

On an apache server its just a one line addition to the configuration file:

/etc/apache2/2.2/mime.types
   application/vnd.pkg5.info       p5i

So what's in this .p5i file? Well it contains the details of any repository you want to add and optionally any packages from this repository. Here's a sample one for installing a few packages from opensoalris.org, sunfreeware and contrib, test.p5i. When you click on the file in Nautilus on your desktop or click on it in a web page on a server with this mime type registered, the above dialog is launched, listing the new repositories that will be added (repositories are not listed if already on your system) and any packages that are to be installed.

Once you click to proceed, the repositories are automatically added, then the packages are added, using the normal install process for Package Manager. Note if its a secure repository, you are first presented with a dialog to enter its SSL key and cert, before continuing with the package installs.

Going Forward

Now the contents of the .p5i file are in JSON format for easy processing, but may take a little getting used to if you want to hand edit them :) We plan to add another feature to Package Manager which will allow you to save any selections you make in Package Manager as a .p5i file that others can use to both add the repository they come from and install the selected packages.

Shawn Walker whose IPS Publisher API made this all possible will be adding the auto creation of .p5i files to his OpenSolaris Web Search interface at some stage as well. No doubt .p5i files will start popping up all over the place in OpenSolaris land. We will certainly be adding them to the Package Repository page to make it a simple one click to add useful repositories.

We also plan to add auto discovery feature for new repository publishers, whereby repository managers can list related url's of other repositories that might be of interest to a user. Using the Update Manager Notifier process we will check for these updates and give users the option to add them, again using the Web Install. This will not make it into 2009.06, have to save a few things for the next release :)



Comments:

fantastic! web-install looks to be a very useful feature and the coming performance improvements are most welcome. thanks for everyone's work, and i look forward to test-driving it in coming builds....

-- eldee

Posted by Eldee Stephens on March 26, 2009 at 07:54 AM GMT #

John,
Great post and it's also nice to see Cherokee Web Server already supporting application/vnd.pkg5.info mime type for \*.p5i files!

http://svn.cherokee-project.com/changeset/3013

Posted by Michal Pryc on March 27, 2009 at 04:10 AM GMT #

When Ian Murdoch join OpenSolaris I knew stuff like this was on the horizon. Package management in Solaris is become more reasonable with every release, and the sheer power of Solaris is finally coming out from underneath its own obscurity.

Posted by John G. on March 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM IST #

The p5i file idea is a great feature!!

Nonetheless, I'm a bit concerned about security implications of such posibilities, especially when speaking of auto discovery of new repositories.

I mean, I'm afraid of:
- The oportunity that may see some users and groups to distribute malware, combined with
- the average "non-security-aware" users who my click and add (trough p5i files) new "malware" repositories,
- not speaking of the thread in this case of auto-discovered repositories...

I supposed however that this issues are already been addressed by the people working on it.

Great OS by the way! Great work!

Posted by Alexandre Dumont on April 02, 2009 at 04:01 AM IST #

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