A few weeks ago, I called for Ubuntu to have a new package system. Either I’m Miss Cleo, or someone was listening. So, what’s next?
You may want to check my last article late last month on the subject first..
Most of you on the pulse of Linux have heard Canonical is now committing to a new package system. And I for one am ready to use it. No, really ready. It’s something that will solve getting software easily sideloaded on desktops everywhere, and allow for Linux app stores to work more like, well, normal app stores.
Here’s some things that I’d like to see:
* An easy file-based package approach. Granted there are .debs now but this should be all-architecture and multi-platform. Something that could be used beyond just Ubuntu, easily. You should be able to stuff mutli-architecture and multi-Linux-derivates into a single file, that “just works”
* DRM hooks – not necessarily a DRM standard, but something that will allow for the bundle to hook into a DRM system. We don’t need m4a and m4p and lots of different file extensions. The standard should understand that some closed-source apps need to prevent against piracy.
* User restrictions – Separate from DRM, you need content and user restrictions. File permissions like “don’t let even admins copy this folder” are do-able today. But an app installer that says “don’t let anyone under age 18 install this app” — are not.
* Update hooks – Sometimes, developers need to make sure people don’t install old versions of clients, for both security and for API level changes. App bundles/packages should say to users “this version won’t work anymore” and then handle pulling down a new version from the right source. This should include timer/timebomb support and an API for pinging a server for the latest version.
* Probably a lot of other stuff – but I’m a bit busy and this is a great start.
It’s great that Ubuntu is ditching the old apt world. But, this needs to be done right the first time. Changing package APIs is much more painful to do after they get into the wild.