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Freshmeat: VM Code as a Software Distribution Mechanism

Sep 11, 2000, 07:08 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dave Gudeman)

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"A developer who wants to make a piece of software available to others faces the daunting task of software delivery. There are several strategies for delivering software, primarily source code, machine binaries, and virtual machine binaries, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. I'm going to discuss each of the alternatives, then suggest a variation that is potentially better than any of the other solutions for commercial as well as Open Source software projects."

"The simplest solution for the user of the software is to deliver machine binaries with a system-dependent installation script so the user does not have to do anything but run the script. This method is expensive for the distributor, who has to test, maintain, and deliver multiple distributions and installation scripts. And, with this method, it is inevitable that some systems will not be supported. The disadvantages of this method may be summarized by saying that machine binaries are too dependent on the user's hardware and OS platform."

"From the distributor's point of view, the easiest delivery method is bare source code, since it requires no work other than making the code available. However, this does not make the problems of distribution go away; it just moves them to the user. In order to compile the program, the user needs to have a development system compatible with the developer's, including a compiler, translators, libraries, and tools such as make and yacc. And even with the proper tools, if the user's hardware or OS is different from the developer's, the user may need to do various porting work. The disadvantages of this method may be summarized by saying that machine binaries are too dependent on the developer's hardware, OS, and development platform."

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