Marketing Small OpenSource Projects: Packaging

Background

Packaging is one of those nagging problems that has buggered me for years. When do you create your own RPM or DEB package? Of course the answer is, it depends. I have found two distinct use cases which have

Basics

I don’t think the use cases for this tool have been identified in this Linux Journal Article. I see two excellent use cases. First, I see a strong use case for open source software developers. When you first come up with “something cool”, you want others to use it, but it is not ready for Fedora/Debian/Ubuntu packaging by their limited resources.

At that point in the development phase it is nice to have a tool like this (I wrote my own in bash because I didn’t know this existed) because you want to make it easier for others to install and you want the idea/software to get traction.

The second use case is for software that is not in your distributions package manager when managing large installations of servers. As a sysadmin, you become a package maintainer and divert time/energy to qualitatively building spec/control files. This takes more time than it sounds, but if a tool like this can help, it makes it more realistic to use your distributions package manager for requirements/dependencies, un-installs, etc. It really isn’t fun forking Redhat’s spec to keep apache up to date in a different version, but with a tool, this is nice for private use.

On the other hand, if you build a package with checkinstall, it will never be used by Fedora/Debian/Ubuntu/Redhat because all major distributions have very strict guidelines on package building and do not except “generic” packages.

Conclusion

I started this article a long time ago, and the world may very well change with the introduction and popularity of Docker, but for now, there are still repositories for DEB and RPM files….

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