Application Installer Miniconf: Trip Report

For three days last week I attended a conference on application installing in Germany, hosted by Vincent Untz and the other guys from Novell. There were experts sent from Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, and Mageia. From Fedora both I and Florian Festi attended.

The idea of the conference was to talk about defining some APIs we can share, to discuss interchange formats, and talking to the UI designers to make installing and removing software on Linux suck less.


  • Lots of progress, people were willing to help solve a common problem in a unified way.
  • The right people were at the meeting and we came up with a really good technical plan with action items.
  • Ubuntu Software Center really kicks ass, although we really need them to drop the CLA. USC will be ported to use PackageKit in the next couple of weeks.
  • Packages and packaging are not that interesting to the end user.
  • We will integrate with online social services to provide features like ratings and comments using OCS. OCS needs a couple of things added to the API, which will happen in the next few weeks
  • We will produce appdata.xml metadata per-repository, rather than one super-package.
  • I need to talk to the fedora-infrastructure guys – it might make sense to not refresh the metadata every day for the rawhide compose.
  • We will use a xapian index to query the desktop metadata, rebuilding as repos are added / removed. This supports fast stemming and other advanced features.
  • Will add several new optional fields to desktop file specification upstream for the proper solution, more details to come soon. This will allows us to search for photoshop and return gimp in the search results.
  • Non .desktop files as applications do make sense, e.g. firefox plugins as .xpi or Chromium style web links. This makes sense to push to OCS, rather than in the distro metadata.

What this means for Fedora:

  • We add a tiny script (to be written this week) to generate the xml file and the icon tarball for the distro at compose time (similar to my earlier app-install work)
  • We ship the extra optional metadata in the fedora mirrors (+~9Mb)
  • We download this in PackageKit if a repo is enabled or refreshed

We’ve put a few detailed documents with architecture plan on the wiki and Vincent has also uploaded all the notes from the meeting to the same location.

For more information still, there was a presentation we gave at the end of the conference. It’s nearly an hour and gets pretty technical, so get coffee before if you click the video.

Thanks again to Red Hat for sponsoring my travel and hotel expenses.