[TUHS] Package Management

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Sun Nov 22 11:39:08 AEST 2020

On Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 6:19 PM Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:

> 1) No intention to slight debian in any way.
> 2) dpkg was definitely an improvement over FreeBSds ports scheme. But...
> In fact freebsd did have a pkg system for ports before that --- which was
> basically similar to 1983 SysIII scheme

FreeBSD's ports/pkg system did keep track of what was installed on the
system. There was a database in /var/db so pkg_delete could remove things
and pkg_which to know what pkg a given file belonged to.

It was first-ish, but there was some package system for the early linux
root disks. I think this is how SLS started, but I might be misremembering.
But despite being early, and being ported to other BSDs, it sucked at
upgrading for 20-odd years until it was completely rewritten.... latter day
pkg is so much better, though its repo management has been a little weak
relative to the professional efforts in the linux world.

/usr/ports none the less was ground breaking because it handled both the
local patching, the build depends and the packaging under one umbrella.
It's been on the whole a good thing and has reinvented itself several times
over the years.

When I was managing SunOS systems it seemed like everyone rolled their own.
There was nothing like VMSINSTALL...


3) also as I understand (and larry feel free to correct me here as a better
> chronicler of things Linux than I) but I believe that the big thing rpm
> added was the DB like DEC's setld and system Sun had used which us what I
> was refering too.
> Pls remember that I was trying to chronicle the basic ideas and some of
> the motivation which is what Henry asked.   And that the original driver
> was to support ISVs installs.  So I was trying to explain the history of
> what we did at the time.
> The be fair one of the more vocal people in the early 80s was Heinz who
> occasionally add color here.  I remember Heinz trying to push us to an ABI
> and not stop at an API.
> Today most of the ISVs have abandoned Unix except for the Mac. Msft and
> the phones have taken that.  And the package mngr has been replaced by the
> app store which has.much great use than any of the current Unix packaging
> schemes.  Funny how the profit motive drove that.
> Working for one of the few ISVS that do package SW for Unix we basically
> support two schemes.  Apple Mac installs and RPM because that is were the
> primary customer base has been.   I'd not about goodness or being better or
> being first.  It's economic (Larry and I bemoan this a lot).
> So pls don't take it as a comment about anything other than trying to
> answer as much of the early history as I could.
> Heinz, Jon, Larry you all lived this on the commercial side.   Care to add
> anything?
> Clem
> On Sat, Nov 21, 2020 at 6:31 PM Gregg Levine <gregg.drwho8 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hello!
>> I, myself normally run Slackware Linux. It uses package management in
>> the form of compressed tar files, and a flat file store of the names.
>> It also has a tool which when run will show the user what's there, and
>> what they do if need be. In fact Slackware predates Red Hat by about
>> four years. (Pat and his CS professor introduced themselves to one
>> much earlier one, which was SLS. Neither liked it, and the Prof was
>> convinced that Pat could do better.)
>> -----
>> Gregg C Levine gregg.drwho8 at gmail.com
>> "This signature fought the Time Wars, time and again."
>> On Sat, Nov 21, 2020 at 1:54 PM <arnold at skeeve.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > Things were pretty much ad hoc.  Commercial software likely came
>> > as tar/cpio tapes to install however the vendor wanted. Free software
>> > was from USENET in source code, so again, however people wanted.
>> >
>> > The AT&T Unix PC (7300 / 3B1) in the late 80s had a file format
>> > for installing software from floppy and tracked what was installed,
>> > but that was unique to it.
>> >
>> > Package managers as we know them today really became a big thing
>> > with Linux. Redhat's RPM was one of the earliest.
>> >
>> > My two cents; I'm sure others remember it differently.
>> >
>> > Arnold
>> >
>> > Henry Bent <henry.r.bent at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > > Hello All,
>> > >
>> > > I know I have asked this before, but I am curious about any new
>> replies or
>> > > insight.  How did package management start?  Were sites keeping track
>> of
>> > > packages installed in a flat file that you could grep (as god
>> intended)
>> > > somewhere, or were upgrades and additions simply done without
>> significant
>> > > announcement?  At what point did someone decide, 'Hey, we need to
>> have a
>> > > central way to track additional software"?
>> > >
>> > > I know of DEC's setld and SGI's inst in the latter half of the '80s.
>> What
>> > > was the mechanism before that?
>> > >
>> > > -Henry
>> >
> --
> Sent from a handheld expect more typos than usual
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