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The future of Linux - architecture and package inter-dependencies



Hi All,

Just joined this list, I started a topic on fedoraforum.org and I was
suggested to refer my thoughts on this list as well. Sorry, is LONG.

Here is a compendium of the messages I posted:

ONE

Linux represents a greatly stable platform and the FC team is doing a
great work in improving the operating system, however I think that we
should all take a step back and look at what the market and ourselves
really need.

What I am looking for, like, I believe 99% of the user base not involved
with developing the OS, is:

1) to install an OS and forget about re-installs for at least two years 2)
to be able to upgrade the applications I most use without having to
re-install the operating system
3) to include among the applications I most use the following:
* openoffice
* evolution
* http server
* kde
* gnome
* firefox and mozilla
* mysql and postgresql
* eclipse
* java

to name a few.

I am unsure about the real value of building java within the OS, so
tightly that most packages builds depend on them.

If I seriously need eclipse, I will go an get the latest JDK from Sun and
the latest eclipse from eclipse.org and run them as such, they install in
minutes and I can update them whenever available. FC5 has created a
massive and unnecessary overhead of work essential to keep up with the
latest releases.

firefox 1.5 is hard to build for FC4 due to the dependencies, not to talk
about evolution 2.4 openoffice and KDE just to name some. The dependencies
on a miriad of packages make the effort ridicolously hard.

The risk is to alienate potential users by forcing them to re-install
their operating system whenever they/we want to use the latest release of
an application that we really care about.

My proposition is to start thinking of a Linux architecture that allows
the re-build/re-placement of essential packages without having to rebuild
most of the operating system, thus increasing the life-span and viability
of a platform installation that need not to be replaced every year.

TWO

The problem is not updating from one version to the next, the problem is
actually to keep up with updating the most important, though not system
vital applications, without updating the core operating system. One guy
using its own computer can do that accepting some difficulties and risk.

Assume an hipotetical scenario of an organization that rolled out Linux
desktop to 35000 workstations. The roadmap includes a desktop refresh in
no less than five years due to costs implications.

The core e-Mail application is evolution 2.0. A bug is found on evolution
which requires upgrading to the latest 2.4. But ... evolution 2.4 requires
python 2.4, our installed base is on a distribution based on python 2.3
(like FC2) which is deeply rooted in several applications. In addition,
upgrading to python 2.4 involves upgrading also to a later version of db4,
on which several other applications depend. Here we go, the chain is so
long and tight that just a simple upgrade of evolution involves
re-building most of the operating system, or ... rolling out a newer
version. That puts me off recommending Linux Fedora or Red Hat for any
business desktop platform.

Are any of the core Fedora / Red Hat architects watching this forum?

I would like to hear from them on this.

THREE

The good of this distro is right that there are discussions and
participation from the community that can have its input, beside the fact
that I am uncomfortable in participating, because I would be working for
free for Red Hat that holds its fingers deep in the pie. As a matter of
fact I am not particularly content with Fedora's license terms (the
packages are open source, but we hold the rights on the OS structure, not
just the logos, that belongs to us), an american lawyer must be behind
those. To this end I believe that either we all work for free or we all
get a share of the benefits.

Having clarified this, I would like to make my little free contribution by
drawing your attention to the fact that "having the latest version of a
package at all costs" does not bring all the advantages that it could. On
the contrary, I think that this tendency has brought Linux to being worse
than Windows that we all criticized when got IE embedded.

I would rather ensure that more attention is given to the system's
architectural solution that should be based on modular components that,
although interacting with each other, allow for the isolation of the
applications into services that are as much as possible independent from
each other, thus allowing for greater flexibility (in replacing them with
newer or different versions), which in the end would bring to the system
greater stability, lower cost of ownership (maintenance effort), and
eventually deeper market penetration.

If Fedora is what Red Hat will pick from, for their future releases, maybe
Red Hat are missing the point, because their are getting spaghetti code.

FOUR

Quote:
>Originally Posted by greenlead
>Libraries and apps need to be written for backwards compatibility. An
older app should still function if an updated library is installed.

Precisely, this is at the foundation of any healthy information system,
but it is not happeining with Linux right now, because of the lack of
planning hidden behind the excuse that software solutions evolve rapidly.







-- 
Mauro Mozzarelli
eMail: mauro ezplanet net


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