Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

A New Face on Things

As part of the drive for the OpenSolaris 2008.11 release, the pkg(5) team has been working hard on improving the user experience, and fixing as many outstanding issues as we possibly can in time for the release.  Among those recent improvements is a face-lift of the depot server's BUI (browser user interface).  The short summary of these changes is that users can now search package metadata and browse packages by release and branch.  You can see the result of these changes at the primary OpenSolaris packaging repository website.

This face-lift was more than just "skin-deep" though.  As part of the changes implemented, all of the depot web-facing pages are now Mako templates and there is a new python API specially designed for these pages that can be found in pkg.server.api  (see pydoc pkg.server.api for more information).

What does this mean?  Projects that want to integrate their own web content or customise the presentation of their depot server can now do so with almost no restrictions.  It also means that future ehancements to the depot pages will be far easier.  Please note that these changes are not yet included in an OpenSolaris release; if you'd like to run your own depot server and benefit from these changes, you'll need to build and install the latest version from the pkg gate.

The good news is that there is also a great number of improvements still planned.  The following enhancements are set to be implemented in the future (if you don't see what you need or want in the list below, please open an RFE):

  • Advanced Depot Statistics Page
  • Advanced Search Capabilities (ability to filter searches by release and branch, only show latest versions, etc.)
  • Category-based RSS/Atom Feed (so users can easily get updates from a feed reader about changes to specific packages, or for security updates for any packages, etc.)
  • Comprehensive Package Browsing Capability (so that you can easily navigate through the files contained within a package, it's dependencies, etc.)
  • Depot Page Customisation Documentation
  • Improved Package Information page (instead of the place-holder text-only display we currently have) that ties into the comprehensive browsing mentioned above.
  • Package Count by Release and Branch
  • Package Popularity / Ratings Information
  • Recent Catalog Additions
  • Useful Links section

 Finally, today also marks the official release of OpenSolaris 2008.11.  This release is the culmination of the hard work of many great people in the OpenSolaris community inside and outside of Sun (including independent community members; and folks from Intel, AMD, and others) and other communities as well.  My greatest hope is that if you're reading this, and you haven't tried OpenSolaris yet, you will now.

Congratulations and thanks to all who worked so hard to make this release a reality.

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