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RPM5: a novel format and tools to distribute Linux applications

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A distinctive feature of many Linux distributions is an original approach to the task of software management, which implies formation of software packages and and usage of special systems to manage these packages—in particular, install, remove or update any of them. A common belief is that such systems are just archivers with minor additional features. However, modern package managers are quite complex systems that provide a lot of features besides just putting application files into archive and managing dependencies between different packages. Constantly increasing complexity of software gives rise to different improvements in this area. Nowadays package managers provide various possibilities to control the process of package installation or removal by allowing to launch arbitrary scripts embedded in the package itself, allow users to work with packages through the network, and so on. New features constantly are suggested and implemented.

This paper describes RPM5—a promising package management system based on the famous and widely used RPM package manager. We present an overview of already implemented improvements and discuss possible future directions. The improvements fall into two categories: the ones aimed to simplify creation of packages and the ones that speed up the user-side tools and enhances their functionality in different ways.

Improvements for developers include file triggers, a novel approach for localization of package descriptions, possibility to embed different useful utilities and libraries in the RPM itself, as well as various improvements aimed to automate the process of package creation and reduce number of manual actions.

Among changes valuable for users, we can highlight transactional package management, usage of parallelism to speed up different actions, integration with higher-level package managers and improved handling of configuration file updates. All these changes are aimed to make installation, update and removal of packages considerably faster and more flexible, at the same guaranteeing high reliability of these actions.

Denis Silakov

Denis SilakovDenis Silakov

Ph.D, Senior Software Architect, ROSA Company

Now Denis is working on automation of ROSA distribution development – in particular, he is responsible for tasks concerning package repository management.

Member of the Linux Standard Base (LSB) Workgroup of the Linux Foundation consortium developing LSB and FHS (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard) specifications. In 2006–2010, Denis was a lead developer of the LSB Infrastructure Program that was run under a contract between The Linux Foundation and ISPRAS. In 2009–2012, volunteered for mentoring Google Summer of Code projects for the Linux Foundation.


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