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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Misc
Zero Install software installation system
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doopdoop

Joined: 28 Jul 2005
Posts: 48
Location: Magdeburg, Germany

PostPosted: Fri 12 Aug 2005, 15:09    Post_subject:  Zero Install software installation system  

I have played around a little with Zero Install ( http://zero-install.sourceforge.net/ ), an alternative package management by the Dr Thomas Leonard, the maker of ROX Desktop.
The idea is to make it possible for every user to use software without really installing them in the normal filesystem tree. You just enter an URI, then a daemon downloads the whole program, if it is not already cached. It is somewhat similar to Java Web Start, only for general programs.
I really like the idea, especially if you think about an multi-user environment. Just go to a university computer cabinet and run your favorite editor with know need for administator rights or need for compiling it yourself. There is no conflict with existing software in the file system tree.
Network admins could easily hold a central, local repository of software and keep it up to date and reduce network traffic. For the user this is very convenient - there is only one unique location of your program, and the zero install daemon decides what to get in order to start the program.
It integrates very well with ROX (in fact most apps at the moment are delivered as ROX-Apps), but is usable with other desktop environment as well.
Drawbacks: you need either to compile a kernel module for it (elegant and small, but a little bit frightening for unexperienced users) or a set of python scripts called "Injector" (more dependencies and not really compatible to the first approach).
And there is not really much software ported for it yet. Most are small applications like a simple text editor or a clock, the ROX-Filer itself and tcl. Firefox and Java are marked as experimental, they work for me. There is also a proof-of-concept-OS which boots from a floppy and loads a base system from the net via zero install.
Conclusion: something to have an eye on. The question is, whether it will show the potential to scale to complex distributions and a large user base.
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