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Evolution Of Debian Package Dependencies Resemble Predator-Prey Relationships

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the tastes-like-superturkey dept.

Debian 58

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have performed an ecological analysis of software packages in the Debian GNU/Linux distribution over time; they found that dependencies can be successfully modeled as a predator-prey relationship."

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First post (-1, Offtopic)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151614)

I am the apex predator!

Re:First post (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152342)

Yes, I see their point, but I think this has been taken further by the Debian derivatives.

There are Badgers, Lynx, Narwhals and Ocelots, ferchrissake! I hardly think that, cruel as he is, "Sid" is any kind of predator. And "Hamm"? Surely you're joking!

Deep research indeed! (5, Funny)

m4c north (816240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151776)

FTFA:

The team went back to 1993 and compiled statistics on every major stable release

In other words, "The team compiled statistics on the last three major releases".

Re:Deep research indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38151820)

There were eleven...

Re:Deep research indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38151936)

someone doesn't get sarcasm...

Re:Deep research indeed! (3, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152292)

You must be a release or two behind. the package 'sense-of-humor' had a critical bug that was recently fixed.

Re:Deep research indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152748)

A critical bug would have a fix uploaded into stable. Just saying.

Re:Deep research indeed! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152864)

You don't see woody getting updates these days, do you? I thought they only kept stable and perhaps oldstable updated with critical fixes?

Re:Deep research indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153388)

Oh, I remember that bug! That was fixed around the time of the 80286 release, wasn't it?

Re:Deep research indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38157930)

The package now depends on 'irony' and won't install.
DOES-NOT-FIX

Pure nonsense (3, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151808)

Once again, people versed in one discipline apply their skills to another with results that sound fancy and expensive, while really are just nonsense [abstrusegoose.com] .

Re:Pure nonsense (5, Informative)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151856)

Once again, people versed in one discipline apply their skills to another with results that sound fancy and expensive, while really are just nonsense [abstrusegoose.com] .

Not really. Trial and error is at the heart of evolution which can apply just as easily to living organisms, memes, or software (which is actually a form of meme). It just happens to work quicker on the latter. Predator-Prey relationships are merely an extension of evolution, and is all about inter-dependance. If a package depends on another, one could be considered predator, and the other prey. If development slows on that which is depended on, then the predator must find new prey or face lower numbers and/or extinction.

The greater mistake is a myopic view of disciplines, thinking that nobody else can contribute to the understanding of another discipline except those who specialize in it.

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151932)

But this doesn't seem to shed any new light on things. Does it give us new insight into what we should be doing or avoiding? Does it provide us with any new ways to deal with problems? Nothing is obvious to me off the bat, but time will tell if some novel application of this observation will bear fruit. Right now, it's just an interesting phenomenon.

Re:Pure nonsense (4, Interesting)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152090)

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2541160&cid=38152056 [slashdot.org] - Laid out here. It can lead developers to spot problem applications, that, though popular enough now, may be relying on a few key dying dependencies... a sort of hidden death that without enough developers, the software, though popular, could quickly deteriorate and die.

I'd use an example, but I'll inevitably piss someone off if I mention any packages.

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152882)

"I'd use an example, but I'll inevitably piss someone off if I mention any packages."

Isn't it a pissing contest?

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151992)

Let me see if I can put this on context for you: Life doesn't debug, debian does. All flaws and successes in debian, the team behind it is responsible for. Thus a newer module does not "eat" a weaker module, the debian team gets spammed w complaints on how much a feature sucks or how a bug is costing stability and then fix it in turn making the module better. *shrug* article is very vague as well.

Re:Pure nonsense (5, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152056)

Let me see if I can put this on context for you: Life doesn't debug, debian does.

It's called reproduction. Failure in life results in decreased chance of reproduction, including the ultimate decreased chance, death.

Dependencies compete for limit resources called developers. Just look at all the various sound systems Linux has gone through. They, and the software that depends on them fight to gain more users to thus draw more developers. And, they either live and reproduce, or die.

You are thinking of predator-prey wrong. It's not about eating by about parasitic relationships. And biology is very good at that. What this can show a developer is, based on known algorithms of life and chances of survival, which pieces of software are most in danger of extinction. And that's not always obvious. A music app might be facing extinction because of a particular reliance on a codec dependency that is slowly losing support in favor of another. It let's the developer see further down the road.

Re:Pure nonsense (-1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152228)

Your referring to Darwinism, realize the zealots would nail you to the cross for this :)), but I get your point.

It's called reproduction. Failure in life results in decreased chance of reproduction, including the ultimate decreased chance, death.

I live in America dude, the bigger a piece of shit / asshole / degenerate you are, the more females like you increasing the chance of reproduction, so what you said but backwards. Success in life results in career work that leaves ppl w inept social skills and no time to use their limited ones, ah corporate America, controlling the population one peon at a time.

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152508)

I live in America dude, the bigger a piece of shit / asshole / degenerate you are, the more females like you increasing the chance of reproduction, so what you said but backwards. Success in life results in career work that leaves ppl w inept social skills and no time to use their limited ones, ah corporate America, controlling the population one peon at a time.

Haha, yeah. The advantage to our social meme is that unlike DNA, we're actually good at manipulating it. Advantage for... whom? Not us. ;)

Re:Pure nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152776)

>I live in America dude, the bigger a piece of shit / asshole / degenerate you are, the more females like you increasing the chance of reproduction, so what you said but backwards.

I don't believe that. I don't believe it even if I wouldn't take it literally and interpret it as "most females like a moderately sized asshole". Perpetuating that meme makes you look like quite the asshole to me. It comes off as if you're saying you're a nice guy and should have all the women, but those stupid whores go to that big meany instead. That doesn't sound very un-assholey to me.

But for arguments sake, let's say most did. I'm quite certain not all do. You might want to look elsewhere for women who don't like a jerk. Maybe look up some anarchist and feminist circles if you want to find women that don't take shit from assholes.

Re:Pure nonsense (-1, Offtopic)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153676)

Lol, you better get on your anon account to post your bs whoever you are. Science has shown that the same instinct that was hardwired into women say 10000 years ago of this caveman can club me over the head and have his way with me ahead of all other cavemen to pass on his genes makes his genes superior as there are no challengers. We've evolved as a society, but our instincts remain the same. To put it scientifically the most attractive female will go for the most attractive male BUT BUT BUT it's not the same, a woman judges a man not always on physical characteristics, but on wealth power, other positive traits, etc... make sense?

Need an example? Ask any of your friends in a relationship on what they see in the other person, guys unfortunately instinctively are a ways more shallow :)

Society allows us to make exceptions to this rule out of social circumstance, I'll let you ponder this one though.

P.S. I'd be an asshole if I tried to find "another" woman, get my drift? But I'm not...

And I'm curious, you can only be one of two things a virgin nerd or a woman? Which one? :P

Mod offtopic thnx.

Re:Pure nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38154752)

You misinterpreted "failure in life". No mention of humans were made. And I'm fairly sure it doesn't matter how successful an amoeba's career is (will have to do more research).

Memes [wikipedia.org] aren't 'alive', nor have careers, and they follow the same evolutionary models. If it can go through a natural selection type process, then it can evolve.

From the wiki article I linked to:

Advocates of the meme idea say that memes may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition and inheritance, each of which influence a meme's reproductive success.

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154854)

I live in America dude, the bigger a piece of shit / asshole / degenerate you are, the more females like you increasing the chance of reproduction, so what you said but backwards.

What does this mean for goatse guy?

Re:Pure nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38155750)

He's pregnant with Centaur triplets?

Re:Pure nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161060)

I don't know, but I got a link here if you want to see...

Re:Pure nonsense (2)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152440)

Each successive generation of a species contains fewer "bugs" than its predecessor, as disadvantageous traits are selected against. This is the sole responsibility of mate selection by individuals. In software, a new module generally contains the useful feature set of the older one, so it's not whole inaccurate to say the newer module consumed the older one. User complaints are one of the major selective pressures that drive these processes.

Ecology is an emergent property of evolution, which is an emergent property arising from mathematics. There are a few rules (e.g. selection must occur, descendants must inherit traits, etc.), but it happens in many areas outside of biology (e.g. chemical species, expressions in language, consumer products). Now, that said, I personally don't see much insight being offered by the comparison, but it's an interesting phenomenon.

Re:Pure nonsense (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154462)

"Life doesn't debug" - missed the Darwin memo, eh?

Re:Pure nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152004)

Trial and error is at the heart of evolution which can apply just as easily to living organisms, memes, or software (which is actually a form of meme).

Um, what? How on earth is software a "form of meme". Allow me to share the definition of meme:

meme
[meem]
noun
a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.

Software is not a cultural item, nor is it transmitted by repetition.

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152346)

>Software is not a cultural item, nor is it transmitted by repetition.

What is a cultural item? At least a meme would be, according to yourself. Example of a meme? Let's take the "First post" meme. It is something one does (the posting at the right time) and it carries certain information ("Frosty Piss!" "First Post!" and variations (or should I say forks) thereof). Can you see how action and information embedded into a meme is kind of like code and data embedded in a software program?

The transmission by repetition also fits, although maybe not as obviously, but if people don't pick up the software and use it, does it exist? The transmission by repetitition aspect of software is in running it repetedly.

Feel free to argue. I haven't thought this through much, but at first glance the idea of software being a meme fits like a glove, as far as I can see at this period in history.

Re:Pure nonsense (2)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152816)

The transmission by repetition also fits, although maybe not as obviously, but if people don't pick up the software and use it, does it exist? The transmission by repetitition aspect of software is in running it repetedly.

Interesting! So, the success of a software program might be measured by the total computers it can convince to run it, and the amount of time it runs. (I guess "System Idle Process" is thus the most successful, by that metric. :)

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38156392)

hehe... yeah... Seriously, though, is there a difference between a meme and an idea? What is the difference between an idea and any other kind of information formed or interpreted in a human brain? Oh, I guess one can have an idea in ones head and never tell anyone. Can a meme be more than an idea that is transmitted? What is the capital of Assyria?

Re:Pure nonsense (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152756)

If it can be copied it's a cultural item.

Re:Pure nonsense (4, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152976)

If a package depends on another, one could be considered predator, and the other prey. If development slows on that which is depended on, then the predator must find new prey or face lower numbers and/or extinction.

Dammit, this other package my package depends on is just too fucking stable! It never changes! Every day it's just the same damn thing again! I need to base my package on something that's more of a moving target. Otherwise I run the risk of my own software becoming... (shudder) STABLE.

Re:Pure nonsense (2)

hawk (1151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38155332)

In 96 or 97, this was solved when a major package--live or some such, on which nearly everything actually depended to execut--was declared by one person to have an impure license, andhe unilaterally pulled it. If you ran an update, you ended up with a system that w dead in the water, you could run a shell, but I don't remember whether it was single user or console.

In the meantime, I tried FreeBSD afain, and that time it supported my hardware, and stayed with it (and discovered how FreeBSD & Linux would fsck one another's file systems into the ground if left mounted for days).

hawk

Ok, I'll read... (2)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151852)

I read the first linked FA. It doesn't explain, but just states that dependencies are a predator-prey relationship. Would that mean as in cats depend on mice (in a hypothetical ekosystem with not much more than mice and cats) and without no mice there would be no cats? If that's what they mean, then that is likely just a statement of the nature of packages using a biology analogy, not any kind of findings from their research.

Was there something to take to heart about the things about modularity and conflicts and stuff? Too tired or ignorant to get that.

Re:Ok, I'll read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152124)

no, if there are no mice, it will eats birds, &tc

Re:Ok, I'll read... (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152422)

>no, if there are no mice, it will eats birds, &tc

That's why I said it was a hypothetical ecosystem with not much more than mice and cats.

Mandatory XKCD (5, Funny)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151858)

... is here [xkcd.com] .

Re:Mandatory XKCD (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38157002)

This is funny just on the superficial level of a stick man being eaten by locusts, but is there some satirical element to it that i'm not getting?

Re:Mandatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38157956)

Well, you see, he's being preyed upon by locusts that came to him as a Debian dependency, so it's got that "Debian package as predator" aspect to it.

Re:Mandatory XKCD (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38158266)

i was thinking more of the cartoon in and of itself, rather than in regard to this story, unles

The main question is... (1)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151868)

After countless stints in Dependency Hell, I would ask: which is the predator, and which is the prey?

Re:The main question is... (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152232)

Easy: Marc Ewing is the predator, you're the prey.


What? I should have typed "Ian Murdock"? No no no, Debian doesn't have dependency issues.

Re:The main question is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152244)

You are the prey.

FHS and shitty package management are the predators.

Mathematics is universal (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151894)

Just because a mathematical tool works in other fields does not mean they are related. You can describe many things with differential equations.

Title is wrong. (3, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38151918)

People in Kansas know that the Debian Package Dependencies were Intelligently Designed!!!

Re:Title is wrong. (2)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152394)

There's no evidence that both intelligent design and evolution is involved, in the biological case. After all, Debian, which is designed and maintained by intelligent beings, demonstrates a very strong similarity to evolutionary process. It's not a proof in and of itself, but it's suggestive, IMO.

Re:Title is wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152952)

I'm sure I just felt a strong wind go by...

Genesis 1:1 (2)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154142)

God said "sudo apt-get update" and God saw the repositories were good and God said "sudo apt-get upgrade" ... and on the seventh day God was able to connect by wifi to his local hotspot after finally getting his ndiswrapper drivers working and he rested.

Re:Genesis 1:1 (4, Insightful)

healyp (1260440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154710)

Why would God be using sudo?

Re:Genesis 1:1 (5, Funny)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38155046)

Actually, I guess sudo probably wouldn't be installed right off the bat but yes he could just su to root. running the universe as root is dangerous so he would be better off creating an adminstrator/user profile like Jesus or something and then adding Jesus to the sudoers.

Re:Genesis 1:1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38155808)

Is the Holy Ghost a JTAG debug session, then?

This has many potential applications (5, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152072)

I sometimes suspect that my former marriage could have been successfully modeled as a predator/prey relationship.

Using debian/unstable I have to add something... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152466)

there was a time when, in debian/unstable, X11 had HAL [freedesktop.org] as dependency... that was the time i thought the year-of-the-desktop people finally turned linux into a bad windows...

luckily it got deprecated because it was just too bad... but the freedesktop predator is still trying hard to make linux the prey of their everything-has-to-be-like-windows agenda...

that is also the reason why we have now FreeBSD kernels as an option in debian... there is a little hope that FreeBSD is too small a prey to get fucked up by freedesktop... but i don't know... maybe "Unity" is already worse than windows...

Lotka-Volterra equations (2)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153178)

I don't have access to the full version. Maybe I overlooked something, but I couldn't find anything in the abstract or article that gave more than a fuzzy picture about the "relationship" they are discussing. The set of equations normally used are the Lotka-Volterra equations [wikipedia.org] . An example of the behavior of this equation is shown here [wikipedia.org] on that page. Is this what they found matches their data?

GNOME 3.2.x is fubar'd at the moment (-1, Flamebait)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153268)

Forgive my adjacent moment to rant since we are discussing Debian:

The whole move to Gnome 3.x and now 3.2.x on Debian is a time bomb, especially with gnome-shell, gnome-session and gnome-desktop-data and their clusterf*** of two versions which break some packages between the 3.x and 3.2.x branches. Quality Assurance has gone downhill considerably over the past 5 years within Debian. I'm on my 11th year of Sid/Experimental daily consumption and the amount of times now I've seen kernel crashes, Xorg crashes and broken applications isn't decreasing, but increasing. I hold Linus and his underlings responsible for the 3.x/3.1 crap and 2.6.32+ junk, as well as Xorg and it's abortion known as XWindows but the package breaking and massive growth in piddly little packages with gir1.2- and circular dependencies in various projects really begins to grate on the nerves.

Phrases that include, ``It's free, the source is open now pitch in and fix it...'' are a joke. The tens of billions having been poured into the Linux Community, at large, and the ownership of these packages like they are your first born child turns my stomach. I like having two platforms to do scientific work on, [Linux and OS X] but I plan on spending more time on FreeBSD and less on Linux with the way Linux continues to move forward. Wake me up when Linus has a stable ABI and the ``binary blobs taints the kernel crap'' ends and perhaps Linux might gain 2% on the desktop.

Re:GNOME 3.2.x is fubar'd at the moment (1)

luxifr (1194789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165022)

Sid/Experimental daily consumption

So what exactly do you expect packages deliberately and explicitly offered as unstable and experimental to be? And for having some chosen packages in their latest and greatest version: Ever heard of apt pinning (or Gentoo for that matter)?

I hold Linus and his underlings responsible

Oh boy. How could one possibly argue with that... I mean: You can only argue with claims that posses some kind of logic or sense or meaning or such, can't you?

I like having two platforms to do scientific work on, [Linux and OS X] but I plan on spending more time on FreeBSD and less on Linux with the way Linux continues to move forward. Wake me up when Linus has a stable ABI and the ``binary blobs taints the kernel crap'' ends and perhaps Linux might gain 2% on the desktop.

So you're not only intentionally using unstable and experimental stuff all over your system and expect it to be stable, you're also holding Linux responsible for all that? That's like, erm, using jet fuel in a car and holding Carl Benz responsible not only for your engine blowing up but for all car crashes that happen, the pollution cars produce and virtually any other negative side effect of it. You can't be serious with all that in combination... Therefor I deduce that your post must be some kind of parody... At least I hope so.

Did the scientists extend our minds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38157054)

The tools typically seen on computers are just extensions of the minds that created them.

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