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freshmeat: Introducing a Third Option

Jan 07, 2001, 20:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Eklund, Alex Botero-Lowry )

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"At this time, there are two options for a good packaging system with all the commonly-needed features: RPM and deb. The Simple Packaging Kit, or SPK, is on a quest to make a third option. Because of SPK's current development state, new features are always coming in, meaning that if we find features that are needed to make SPK a viable "Third Option," we can usually add them without breaking anything."

"An SPK package is simply a bzip2ed tarball with data and a configuration file inside. This has its pros and cons, but seems to work well in the end. A major con is that it is slow for querying an SPK just to find its package name and description, because the whole package must be decompressed before the configuration file can be read. The configuration file itself is written in XML because of the language's flexibility and readability. SPK formerly used environment variables from a bash script, but these became awkward to read by hand in larger packages and illogical to use after the SPK management software was switched to Perl."

"SPK tries to split everything into categories. This way, the user may choose not to install certain groups, such as documents or man pages, simply by using an --exclude command. This is good for people who are low on disk space. The major problem with this is that the automatic SPK building tool (which automatically creates an SPK from the contents of a specified directory) must assume which category each file must be put into. It puts files into categories based solely on what directory they're in. We are attempting to help fix this problem by having it make assumptions on both the location and extension of the file. Eventually, a graphical interface which allows the packager to place individual files or directories into specific categories would be ideal, as human intervention is necessary for 100% correct categorization."

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