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Streamlining Software Installation with PackageKit

May 18, 2010, 06:02 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier)

"Software packaging is one of Linux greatest strengths and weaknesses. If all or most of your software comes from your Linux distribution, managing software installs, updates and removal are a piece of cake. But, it can be a fragmented landscape that is confusing for users and annoying for developers and vendors. PackageKit is an attempt to solve some of that.

"All of the distros have package tools already, right? So why bother with another toolkit? On Ubuntu you can use APT or the front-end tools to manage packages; on Fedora you have RPM and Yum; openSUSE has RPM and Zypper; and Mandriva has RPM and URPMI. Lots of great tools to work with packages. Well, that's sort of the problem. All of the distros have their own toolkits. You can install software using various command line tools and GUI utilities. You have RPMs and Debian packages, Slackware packages, Conary, and so on. Each of the solutions has its advantages, but the problem is that they all differ.

"This makes it non-trivial to manage software, and it makes it very complex to write documentation. If you're shipping software for all the major distributions, you may have to explain several ways of installing software."

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