Linux software packaging and distribution

@andygogo (1579)
China
December 26, 2006 12:18pm CST
I have been annually installing linux on my Windows PC for the past 3 years. This is my third year trying linux, and my second year trying Ubuntu (my first trial was Red Hat). IMHO, the one thing which really sets linux back from Windows in being accepted by non-technical people, is that there is no universal, easy-to-use software packaging and distribution system. For Windows, you download a setup packages, and run it (usually named setup.exe, install.exe, or something to that effect). Dependencies are usually fulfilled without a fuss. Uninstallation is usually very clean these days. Very easy and simple stuff. Old software is very easy to update, and updates can be applied as soon as they are released. But for linux, there are rpm, deb, tgz, and other packaging formats. Updates are tied to the individual linux distro, and configuring repositories are a serious pain in the *** for those who don't know much about computers. Then there is "dependency hell", which these days are even worse than Windows "DLL hell". Should the linux community work toward a single, universal packaging format? In this way, linux users can download updates directly from the publisher, without depending on repositories to update - a process that often takes months. Like Windows, users merely download the setup file and run it to install. If any needed files are missing, it can inform the user to install them, or even install them itself (users may even get an option to choose where the files are installed). Like Windows, there would also be a universal package management software (eg. Add/Remove Packages), that can be used to perform a clean uninstall of the package, with the option to remove any unneeded dependencies. I understand that because of the many distros that are available, along with the accompanying niggles of each one, the creation of a universal packaging format would be problematic. But surely if the major distros like Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, and Debian, all combined their expertise, a universal packaging format could be created that will allow packages to be installed reliably on the vast majority of linux machines? What does everyone think of this? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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