PackageKit as a KDE wish

The PackageKit development goes on, but there is still no KDE GUI around. Therefore I filled a bug in the KDE bugzilla to draw some attention to this problem.

Currently KDE 3 provides kpackage to manage packages or software with KDE utils. But kpackage is very limited in its possibilities, scope and also supported package formats and is therefore usually replaced by the distribution specific tools. It is also not that user friendly designed although there are many beautiful mockups and a bug related to the design, KDE bug (wish) #106533.
Other desktop environments like GNOME and XFCE do have the same problem, btw.: there are much too many software management backends out there to support them all in a sufficient way.

Out of this reason it was often mentioned that the DEs shouldn’t provide an interface for these tasks at all and should leave that to the distributions.

However, Richard Hughes recently started PackageKit recently (yes, the project has a homepage now). PackageKit aims at abstracting away all the different soiftware management backends and at providing a single API for simple tasks like updates and software installation. The project develops quite well and the matrix of supported backends and features looks already impressive:

PackageKit features and backends matrix
conary yum apt box alpm
refresh-cache X X X X
get-updates X X X
update-system X
search-name X X X X X
search-details X X X
search-file X X X
install X X X
remove X X X
get-depends X
get-description X X X X

Other backends are in development: emerge and libzypp (OpenSuse) were discussed lately. The backend support can be developed by the distribution vendors themselves. The PackageKit developers concentrate on PackageKit itself and make sure it does what it is supposed to do.

Of course PackageKit is not designed to do fine grained software management – but Phonon is also not designed to do fine grained Audio mixing and modification. The aim is in both cases just to make it easy for developers to deliver a program/GUI which fits to the needs of the average user.
And that’s exactly what KDE needs. And the development of such a GUI could mainly focus on design and usability. There would be no need to know something about used backends at all for the developers because PackageKit takes care of this.

In the end KDE could drop kpackage and deliver a fully integrated solution for daily software management tasks.
To make this idea popular I created KDE bug (wish) #149968. If you are a user, vote for it. If you are a developer, teach me how to develop it myself 😉


6 thoughts on “PackageKit as a KDE wish”

  1. This is something linux/unix is missing badly, a single way of installing applications. Even if it is just one frontend controlling many backends. Including it in KDE4 would really seal the deal with new users who are still scared of the terminal. The various KDE frontends for all the package managers have their own looks, unifying them would be a great help as well.

  2. Yes, but won’t users be tempted to point-install like in windows ? I fear the many problems developers will face like “application XXX in yum repositories doesn’t integrate well with application YYY fond in Portage”. It’s going to be a real mess for newbies instead of the current clean way of installing packages _designed_ _for_ your distribution.

  3. yoho: You miss the point here. PackageKit is desgined to only work for your backend. Compared to the current situation you would only get a unified frontend, but nothing else! There would be no mixing of repositories and especially no mixing of backends.

    A point-and-click situation for online offered packages also wouldn’t introduce new problems because PackageKit would only provide the GUI and not a new feature as such. When a package offered online is problematic on a distribution it would be so with and without PackageKit.

  4. Sorely needed!

    Existing package management solutions are a mess and a disgrace to widespread linux adoption (yes, SuSE, Canonicall, I’m also looking at you).

    My 20 votes are for you.

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