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Journal Sanity's Journal: Package Management in the untimate operating system 5

I have frequently thought about how to put together the next iteration of the operating system, and a recent discovery on SweetCode reminded me of this.

Zero Install is designed to make the process of installing new software completely transparent. It achieves this by mapping a filesystem to HTTP. for example, if you wanted to install The Gimp, you would simply run it from /uri/0install/www.gimp.org/bin/gimp. This would transparently download the gimp software, and any libraries on which it depends. Once downloaded such applications are cached such that the next time you run the gimp it is just as fast as if you ran it from your local filesystem (because you would be running it from your local filesystem!).

This idea, of breaking down the barriers between the local filesystem and the Internet to effectively eliminate the notion of installation definitely seems like the way forward. This is the kind of convenience that tools such as Debian's apt-get begin to provide - however 0Install takes it to its ultimate conclusion.

The next step, then, would be to build an entire Linux distribution around the 0Install principal. This would also benefit from upcoming filesystem innovations which allow set operations on directories (for example, having two directories and creating a new virtual directory that contains everything the two real directories do). At the simplest level this would eliminate things like the $PATH variable.

Creating a new Linux distribution that isn't afraid to make bold advances such as those outlined above will be the true next step in the evolution of operating systems - it won't be brain surgery, just elegantly combine a number of technologies (such as Linux, 0Install, and the new Reiser FS) that are already out there or in development.

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Package Management in the untimate operating system

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  • You sound like you want a tool like auto-apt. This is not new.

    -molo


    Package: auto-apt
    Priority: optional
    Section: admin
    Installed-Size: 200
    Maintainer: Fumitoshi UKAI
    Architecture: i386
    Version: 0.3.19
    Depends: libc6 (>= 2.3.1-1)
    Recommends: apt, sudo, perl, wget, dpkg-dev
    Suggests: x-terminal-emulator, libgtk-perl, build-essential
    Filename: pool/main/a/auto-apt/auto-apt_0.3.19_i386.deb
    Si z e: 42368
    MD5sum: 14f32419e3417207ebb7b64fd62cf7e4
    Description: package search by file and on-demand package installation to
    • You sound like you want a tool like auto-apt. This is not new.
      Interesting, although the transparent installation functionality was just one of the features of my proposal.
  • This would transparently download the gimp software, and any libraries on which it depends. Once downloaded such applications are cached such that the next time you run the gimp it is just as fast as if you ran it from your local filesystem (because you would be running it from your local filesystem!).

    This must be some new definition of the word transparent. First, I always need a net connection "just in case" I haven't run an application yet. Second, why would I want a system where it take 4 hours "th

    • First, I always need a net connection "just in case" I haven't run an application yet.

      Oh, come on - display an ounce of imagination. Obviously many applications would be "pre-cached" and distributed with the OS, just as with today's operating systems.

      Second, why would I want a system where it take 4 hours "the first time" I run gimp?

      It would only take 4 hours if gimp wasn't cached and your Internet connections was using some kind of smoke-signal based transport layer. In this scenario you are in for

      • Oh, come on - display an ounce of imagination. Obviously many applications would be "pre-cached" and distributed with the OS, just as with today's operating systems.

        It seemed like one of the main advantages being proposed with "0install" (Zero install) is that you don't have to install, this seemed to be a given from the name and the use cases (and even what you said). If you have to install all your apps. how is it any different from installing debian ... well apart from moving all the real files to /

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