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Zero Install: The Future of Linux on the Desktop?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the plug-and-play dept.

Software 718

SiegeX writes "Zero Install ,which is apart of the ROX desktop environment is not just a new packaging system, it's a whole new way of thinking; a way that I believe is exactly what Linux needs to become a serious contender for Joe User's desktop. Zero Install uses an NFS to both run *and* install apps from. The apps are all self-contained in their own directory; binaries, docs, source code and all. Once the app has been downloaded its kept in a cache from that point on to minimize delay. The beauty becomes apparent when Zero Install is combined with ROX which runs the application by just clicking on the directory it was installed to. Deleting the application along with all the other misc files is as simple as removing the directory it's contained in. This method of partitioning applications in their own directories also allows installing multiple versions of any application trivial. This is something even the greatest of technophobes could understand and use with ease."

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Someone should tell Apple (5, Funny)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756393)

Someone should really point this out to Steve. I think using this type on installation on Macs would increase useability by leaps and bounds.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756408)

It's a whole new way of thinking! Apple would have a paradigm shift!@#

Could there be a difference here? (4, Interesting)

expro (597113) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756466)

Could there be a difference here? Hopefully they are not putting code into virus-writable directories, as often happens on Apple.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (2, Interesting)

neutralstone (121350) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756491)

Hear hear (though I'm sure their UI people are already aware of it---ZI has been in development for a while now). Certainly commercial app developers should like it because it gives the user a very easy way to try the "trial version". This would lead to more trials, presumably meaning more sales. It goes without saying that Free Software people should like it just from a usability standpoint.

The only way it could *suck* is if Microsoft is the first company to use it in a big way.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756534)

hey dumbass, apple already does things this way.
does this [wikipedia.org] help?

Re:Someone should tell Apple (3, Interesting)

bryhhh (317224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756599)

Risc OS has used this approach since the mid/late 1980's when the OS was launched on the Acorn Archimedes.

The only shared libraries are the ones built into the OS. (The OS was on ROM, so version incompatibilties didn't really exist like they would with the disk based OS's we use today).

Their where special files placed in each directory (!boot and !run)

!boot was executed when the filemanager loaded the directory and was responsible for replacing the applications default 'dir' icon with one that represented the application function.

!run was executed when the user launched the program by double clicking on the folder.

It was possible to open the directory rather than execute the application, IIRC a shift key was used in conjunction with a mouse click.

Disclaimer: It's about 15 years since I used the above system, so details may be inaccurate.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (5, Insightful)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756497)

Yes, someone should indeed point that out to Steve Jobs. Many Mac applications these days come with installers that drop bits all over the file system, and many of those don't come with clean uninstallers, making the problem worse.

Don't bitch to Steve (5, Insightful)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756519)

Bitch to whoever decided that that app should have an installer.

If MS Office can be a drag and drop install, almost anything can.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (1)

ElGnomo (612336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756522)

Isint this approach to installing already used in macs? Im not a mac user but the mountable disk images that you download and mount to run firefox on one seem very close in concept to this Zero Install

Re:Someone should tell Apple (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756589)

Close. I believe these guys actually export an NFS directory over the network and the system simply mounts it as the root file system. Apple does this also with NetBoot.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756537)

[snicker]

Seriously, as an Apple user, I'm glad to see a Linux desktop system copying the MacOS instead of Windows. I've felt for some time that it is a huge mistake for KDE and GNOME to try so hard to make themselves look like Windows when, in OS X, there is a much better example of a Unix-based desktop. Why waste your time copying less than the best?

Yeah, yeah, user familiarity, etc. Look, folks, I guarantee you that if all you've ever used is Windows, if you sit down at a good OS X machine, it will take you about half an hour to get used to the differences and be up to speed -- and after that you'll be discovering new and better ways to do things and saying, "That's so cool! Why didn't Microsoft ever think of that?" If a Linux desktop can have some nifty non-Windows features too (and I really don't care if the developers rip them off from Apple or come up with them on their own) it will do a lot more to enhance Linux desktop growth than just coming up with a system that's "like Windows, only not exactly."

Next response I anticipate: "Yeah, well, if Mac OS X is so much better, how come it hasn't beat Windows in the marketplace?" The answer, of course, is that there is a lot of mindless anti-Apple prejudice, and regrettably I don't expect that to change any time soon. But anti-Linux prejudice is much milder, I think. A good Linux desktop with Mac OS X's best features (and maybe some of its own) especially if it were backed by IBM, could be the best shot at breaking the Windows stranglehold on the corporate desktop.

Re:Someone should tell Apple (2, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756591)

The anti-apple prejudices will go away, but it will take time... For a lot of us, Mac OS 9 was really awful...yet from the little I had the chance to play with OS X(not that much...but chances if I spent more time it would get better), I was delightfully impressed...and if I had money Id get a Mac right here right now. its the kind of same thing that happened with Windows, from Win9x to WinNT5+...it doesnt crash that much anymore, but its still suffering from the bad experiences of the old days... Mac's reputation will recover, probably faster...

Re:Someone should tell Apple (1, Redundant)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756604)

last time i checked a .app is just a renamed folder

frikky pokky! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756394)

suxxors@!

YOU FAIL IT!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756453)

You sux0rz a$$h0le!

Re:YOU FAIL IT!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756553)

Blimey! Everytime I cross the pond I have to get fingerprinted? I'd better stop wearing women's clothing. Bloody 'ell, those damn Yanks. Well, I best be catching me a lorry so I can have tea with me mum. Hope I don't break me arm cause I'd hate to have to wait 18 hours in searing pain in the emergency loo. 4 pounds sterling for a gallon of gas? Well, at least it isnt 4 pounds 50 like last year. God hail the Queen for providing for us. Bob's your uncle and all that. Cheerio.

shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756513)

i woke up this morning and i had grown the most rounded breasts ever. i guess that makes sense since i am a hot girl. i am going to masturbate now. any of you geeks wanna help me out? i love to receive cunnilingus.

Re:shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756538)

Dang it... maybe if i wasn't so goddam fat that i need six firemen to prise me away from my linux box then i could get me a piece of that sweet poontang!!!

waste? (2, Insightful)

pholower (739868) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756398)

I like the idea, but I worry that about speed regardless of what they say will occur. To me, it would be better to have to package load onto the HDD, and if there are any missing libraries, have that go and fetch them as well. This just seems like a waste of internet traffic to me.

Isn't this already being done with apt_get? I just think Linux needs a more user friendly updating service. I hate to say it, but windows is much better at taking completely computer stupid people and having them screw up their own pc's, instead of having to call a family member to do it for them.

Re:waste? (4, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756422)

To me, it would be better to have to package load onto the HDD, and if there are any missing libraries, have that go and fetch them as well.
That's exactly what is happening: the software is cached. From their website: "I've only got dial-up; can I still use Zero Install? Yes! Run each program you want while on-line and it will be cached. When you're off-line, the cached copy is used automatically."

Consider most people do have broadband now (5, Insightful)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756473)

Also consider this, for the average person not only is this a more secure form of distribution, its more efficient, its easier, and for 99% of files people will download it just works. Unless you are going to compile your kernel or do serious changing to your machine you wont need apt get. Just to download GAIM, or KWORD or whatever, you only really need to drag drop and run, or even just click and run. I see nothing wrong with this, and you could give the browser enhanced UI features to embed some of the apps into it in the future.

Re:waste? (3, Interesting)

LittleBigLui (304739) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756499)

That's exactly what is happening: the software is cached. From their website: "I've only got dial-up; can I still use Zero Install? Yes! Run each program you want while on-line and it will be cached. When you're off-line, the cached copy is used automatically."


Sounds a lot like Java Net Start to me.

You only have to download once (4, Interesting)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756447)

After you download it, its cached. Basically you have to download the app anyway to run it. If you download say the new version of say GAIM it would be fantastic. I'd just drag it from the browser onto my desktop and then click it. Apt-Get is for nerds like you. Regular people want to accomplish a task in the least amount of steps. If you can bring the task to two steps, click n run, or drag n drop, this is what people want.

Re:waste? (2, Interesting)

caseydk (203763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756479)


I do something similar to this already.

I keep all of my Java apps on a Samba share on my fileserver. Then, I set up aliases pointing at my standard version that I'm using.

Then, from whatever system I use or plug into my network, I map the drives and I have all of my apps with no hassle.

I've done this connecting Slackware, Redhat, win2k, and win98 systems to my network. It removes all the nastiness of having to maintance multiple copies.

Re:waste? (2, Informative)

RdsArts (667685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756506)

To me, it would be better to have to package load onto the HDD, and if there are any missing libraries, have that go and fetch them as well.


That's what it does. That is what they mean when they say 'cache'.

What happens is the software is cached first. Then, all dependancies are listed as 0install directories, so if you have it already it'll use the cached version, but if not it'll pull a copy and cache that. This is nice because if, say, you don't use the help files, it won't pull them until you ask for them, so you don't have them clutering up your HDD or being downloaded. You just point the ROX-Filer at the 0install AppDir, click on it, and without you even needing to think about it everything is installed and the program runs.

It also has a way to quickly update all apps, or if you just want one upgraded, open it in the Filer and hit 'reload.' Simple, easy, and intuitive. In general, I'd say this is even easier then the Windows Update and installers combo.

I was afraid slashdot wasn't being slashdot (2, Funny)

HappyCitizen (742844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756401)

We haven't had a "Linux is going to take over the world" story in such a long time....

Re:I was afraid slashdot wasn't being slashdot (1, Funny)

ElGnomo (612336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756535)

wow, it almost like your comment doesnt apply at all and youve been waiting to say that for a while.
You blew your load prematurely there buddy. But dont worry, she understands, sure she does...

Potential for unpublishing apps? (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756402)

Slashdot has previously covered Rox here [slashdot.org] .

But one thing I wonder about Zero Install: what if you launch an application, it needs a piece that you don't have cached, and the server hosting it is down? Is it possible for a maintainer to unpublish an application?

use P2P instead of client server. (1, Insightful)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756493)

No one has to be the main server, let groups of people host to each other. Use mirrors, or use P2P on the school or work network. Client server need not be used in a LAN, or on college campus where I'm sure theres a lot of other linux users. For people at work I'm sure they have their own private servers. For people at home you pay a fee, big deal.

Re:Potential for unpublishing apps? (1)

RdsArts (667685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756524)

If you mean 'remove app without the users knowledge,' no. 0install actually will store old versions of software you've cached even after you cache a new version until you yourself tell it to remove it.

Other then that, the potential to 'unpublish' a app is no greater then any other app on SourceForge.

This sounds perfect... (5, Interesting)

gleffler (540281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756403)

For anybody. It emulates the best aspects of the mac's "packaging" system (bundles) while also making it easy to get new stuff.

Hopefully, this takes off in more of the 'newbie oriented' distros so that we can say "Just type cp /software/openoffice /usr/software to install" instead of ./configure && make && make install. :)

I still would like to know how they plan on fixing library dependencies, but ... assuming they get over that, I'll be very happy once this is released.

Re:This sounds perfect... (1)

Moth7 (699815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756463)

I guess they'd get round dependancies the same way apt does - go to the repository, if it asks for dependancies that you don't currently have, then queue them for download too. Also, I think a newbie wouldn't be impressed about having to copy the file in the command prompt - especially if permissions started getting in the way. Maybe just have a shell script called "Install" on the distribution media and give it a nice icon? ;)

Re:This sounds perfect... (3, Insightful)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756488)

Maybe just have a shell script called "Install" on the distribution media and give it a nice icon? ;)
You're over-thinking the solution; dragging and dropping it somewhere is a lot more intuitive for newbie users than using some cryptic global installation utility.

Re:This sounds perfect... (2, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756594)

--
Member of the Stop Fucking Saying 'M$' army


Hhhm. I think your sig needs to be abbreviated.

You should go with: M$F$M$A

Why not just use P2P? (-1, Offtopic)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756536)



Bit Torrent works better than damn Apt. I don't know why we use Apt-Get as if it solves dependencies. It does nothing but automate the process. In the end you still have to configure the automation which makes it just as hard to use for a newbie as configuring a shell account or using binary news groups for file distribution.

Apt-Get is a geek tool, the way apt-get works is in a geeky way. People don't want to update or configure anything, you should click and the program should do it all in the backround with NO user intervention.

I should be able to click a file and have it solve the dependencies on its own, if theres a problem with it, it should check a list via Peer to Peer and download off Kazaa or whatever the hell we put Linux files on.

Fact is, theres no reason to use the client server model at all. People in Windows use Kazaa to download files, they use Edonkey, Emule etc. When the emule list of servers go back they click an update button and a new list of servers are downloaded from the Emule network itself.

Why can't we list repositories on a P2P network, let a user connect to this network to constantly update their respositories, in the same way that emule works?

I admit that may not work for the corporate environment but for the newbie users who arent paying anything its better than Apt-get. Let people from Windows and Mac world use what they know instead of telling them to learn YOUR software.

Piggyback on which P2P network? (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756570)

Why can't we list repositories on a P2P network, let a user connect to this network to constantly update their respositories, in the same way that emule works?

I've tried eMule. I don't want to have to sit in a queue and wait for 1,759 other people to get something just because I told the file manager to start an app. What improvements would you make to the architecture of the network? No, BitTorrent doesn't scale well for small (<10 MB) files.

Besides, P2P doesn't work well for residential or university dorm users who can't take incoming connections.

Re:Why not just use P2P? (1)

Moth7 (699815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756596)

And how hard is it for the installer to set a cron job to run 'apt-get update;apt-get upgrade' at every logon or 24 hour increments thereafter? This requires _no_ user interraction - less so than Windows Update or whatever magical solution they were using on their last box. And if they really want a graphical solution then Synaptic [nongnu.org] is great for that purpose.
Also, what's the point of letting people use what they know? If F/OSS inherits familiar characteristics from proprietary software then it's going to bring some bad ones with it too - why have to wean them off it later when you can start immediately?

2 words .. (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756404)

Disc space.
Actually, as cheap as it is these days, I guess, why not ?

Right on. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756405)

Now I can make my X-box even more useful

apps contained in their own directories.... (0, Redundant)

Penguin Follower (576525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756406)

... reminds me a lot of Mac OS X where apps come in a "folder package".

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (1, Funny)

Kralizec (627733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756430)

Directory contained applications are hardly anything new. Remember DOS? Those days when Microsoft didn't make it impossible to remove an entire application from your computer.

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756543)

The difference is that app bundles on Mac OS X act like *files* not directorys, at least in Finder.

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756607)

Actually, all Cocoa apps treat bundes as "files" too.

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (2)

Moth7 (699815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756433)

And it doesn't remind you of Windows's "Program Files" too?

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (1)

Kick the Donkey (681009) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756462)

That's like saying Program Files is the same thing as /usr. Stop being so obtuse.

Re:apps contained in their own directories.... (5, Informative)

Ummagumma (137757) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756468)

No, actually, not at all. Most programs on your windows pc that are 'installed' into Program Files still have obscure registry entries, and may require dlls and such in the \winnt and \winnt\system32 directories. You cant just remove a progam from the 'Program Files' folder, and have it gone.

This is why... (4, Insightful)

ghettoboy22 (723339) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756410)

I *love* my PowerBook G4. Seriously, Apple has had this for years going back to the old System 9, 8, 7, etc.... it's nice to see someone major is finally trying to copy 'ole Steve Jobs's team. If you ever wondered what life would be like without the Windows Registry, this is it.

If you can make more money, do harm. (2, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756455)


The full name is "Windows Registry Copy Protection and OS Degradation Scheme". It's part of the "Treat all customers like criminals because some are criminals" Initiative.

Seamless install and use? (1)

Moth7 (699815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756416)

Sounds like the kind of thing that'll encourage similar behaviour to Windows whereby things get installed without the user "knowing" or "noticing". How long before Gator had something out via this? Although, that said, it does look very nice and I will be trying it out with a view to adding it to my "Convert to Linux" arsenal on the friends and family front :)

Re:Seamless install and use? (0)

trmj (579410) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756449)

Sounds like the kind of thing that'll encourage similar behaviour to Windows

Funny, but this idea of "install a program and all files needed to run it to the program's own directory" sounds like precisely what the Program Files folder is for on Windows systems.

Nothing new here, just having to do it in an extra step due to a different file system.

Re:Seamless install and use? (1)

Moth7 (699815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756480)

I wasn't actually focussing on that aspect. More the point and click install and run :-\

Re:Seamless install and use? (1)

Beek (10414) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756476)

Actually, I think it discourages Gator-like behavior. Gator would be installed in Windows while running the installation program, which you'd have to do as Administrator in Win2K. On the Mac (or on Linux using this scheme), to install a program, you don't have to run an installation program, you just copy the directory as root. But when you run it, you run it as an unpriviledged user, and then such Malware doesn't have permission to wedge itself into your system.

ah so the root pwd hiijacked through the web now? (1)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756568)

Unless users in Linux start using IE, how exactly will gator do this? Is gator even open source? If it were open source and were a hiijacking program who would actually host it? Ease of use does not mean less security. OSX is doing pretty good with security and they are easy to use.

You can already do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756419)

You can create a directory and put your app there, because Linux is modular. What a useless story.

WBM link (1, Funny)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756421)

Anyone have waybackmachine links to DOS or Mac installation routine instructions? It might help this project a lot!

No, The future is thin clients (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756423)

This is the true power of Unix + X.. Running applications remote from the workstation..

This aids in system management, resource control, data security, platform independence, .. most everything that a data center does, this improves it..

It *is* the future.. ( and ironically the past.. remember VT100's and 3270's ? ) as is its the right way to do computing..

The future? not anymore (2, Insightful)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756565)

Just running an X server as a thin client used to be the future, but the present way UIs are presented to the user from a server is 95% of the time in a web browser, and if that changes, it's not going to be back to what used to be future (X).

Re:No, The future is thin clients (4, Insightful)

Inspector Lopez (466767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756583)

As long as CPUs are so fast, RAM is so cheap, and disks are big ... and the net is relatively slow, thin clients will have only thin application.

I *do* remember the good old days of VT100s, and they worked great; the thing that displaced VT100s in our research group was *Macintosh* --- those wascally little SEs and the occasional MacII had such nice software onboard, they were a delight to use. The Macs were in turn partially displaced by DEC RISC machines, which cost more but brought a lot of horsepower to the desktop.

We used to use a Beowulf in our current project, but the blasted Pentia got so fast there was no point. Our real-time processor now relaxes on a single machine.

It's not so hard to imagine the pendulum swinging back to thin clients (perhaps in the guise of wireless PDAs, or in a more sinister form via .NET), but there is no need for a thin client to run a word processor or mail client or www browser. Religious wars aside, our desktop software is quite capable, and getting more so.

Re:No, The future is thin clients (1)

Monkius (3888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756586)

Not even remotely (so to speak), in my opinion.

An architecture that wastes the power of the computers where the users are sitting, and overburdens some central computers where their apps run, and then puts every pixel on every screen in the company on the network wire, cannot be an appropriate solution to computer management problems.

There are nice properties to sharing an environment with others, and that's actually what I miss most about timesharing. I think you need something a lot more sophisticated than remote desktops to bring it back, though.

Apple has done this for a while. About time. (1)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756425)

Yes it's a good move/idea. Combine it with the new storage system in gnome, and you could really have something cool. This would also make Click N Run type functionality from websites a lot easier to do.

Everything old is new again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756428)

Sounds good to me. I love how even .Net gets into this game with Microsoft touting simple 'xcopy deploys.'

Going back in time? (2, Interesting)

TyrelHaveman (159881) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756429)

This layout of program storage reminds me of The Olden Days on DOS, when the whole program was in one directory. It's still very much like this in Windows, in fact, with the "Program Files" directory often containing everything (although "Documents and Settings" is becoming more used for user settings storage).
Personally I like the idea. I've always been confused trying to locate various files which belong to a single application in *nix.

Re:Going back in time? (3, Funny)

Kick the Donkey (681009) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756483)

Yeah.. Everything is stored in Program Files. Except when things are put into C:\Windows\System32. Or the Registery.

User settings storage in win32 (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756494)

It's still very much like this in Windows, in fact, with the "Program Files" directory often containing everything (although "Documents and Settings" is becoming more used for user settings storage). Personally I like the idea. I've always been confused trying to locate various files which belong to a single application in *nix.

Most *n?x apps seem to store all the per-user settings in a dot-file or dot-folder in the user's home directory. In Windows, they're often strewn about in at least three places: C:/Documents and Settings/Me/Application Data/, C:/Documents and Settings/Me/Local Settings/Application Data/, and HKEY_CURRENT_USER in the registry. In addition, a lot of the apps I have installed on my Windows 2000 machine came bundled with peripherals, where the app and a device driver came as part of the same install, the app in C:/Program Files/ and pieces of the driver in various folders in C:/Windows/.

How does Rox handle it?

Not windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756502)

With the exception of agent, I don't think anything in my program files stands on its own. You have the registry, documents and settings, program files\common. Even \windows and \windows\system32 has dependencies. In short, application partitioning on windows is a complete mess. I just migrated an XP box to 2003 and you will spend most of your time recreating settings that have no consistency as to where you will find them.

Re:Going back in time? (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756573)

Personally I like the idea. I've always been confused trying to locate various files which belong to a single application in *nix.

Use rpm -ql [packagename]

Well duh... (4, Interesting)

Enonu (129798) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756431)

Sorry folks, we have the technology right now to support multiple version of libraries at the same time, disk space is no longer an issue, and it just makes logical sense to keep everything related to an application together in a logical unit that can be administrated with minimal effort. The /bin, /lib, /usr structure has to go. Applications locking in to configuration files across the file-system has to go. It's simply painful to use, and something like Rox here is the first step in the right direction.

Not like this step hasn't been taken in the past by multiple other software solutions ...

Re:Well duh... (1)

Kick the Donkey (681009) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756501)

Disk space may not be a problem, but bandwidth still is. A vast majority of the world is still on dial-up, bub...

Not in Korea or Japan. (1)

Adolph_Hitler (713286) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756600)

I guess you are talking about Africa and India? Because actually Korea and a lot of Asia have more broadband than anywhere else in the world and guess where the Linux market is making money? Canada has plenty of broadband, the USA even has plenty of broadband. I don't see where you come up with this. Diskspace isnt a problem and neither is internet access, but for people who have poor internet connections let them use an old version of Linux and old software to go along with their old internet connection. Why hold the rest of the world back because a few people in rural America still have 56k?

Re:Well duh... (3, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756518)

Sorry folks, we have the technology right now to support multiple version of libraries at the same time

Why would you want to do that?

On my Fedora box, if I upgrade glibc to fix a bug, I want *all* my applications to benefit.

Oh, and disk space is not the reason for having shared libraries -- memory usage is.

Re:Well duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756556)

Sorry but from a security perspective it's a step backwards having /lib/libc-2.3.2.so on every system if its needed or not! It's a microsoft style solution!

Re:Well duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756602)

Is it still true that a linux app can't get a "working directory" path when it's launched? And that all paths to libraries, etc, have to be hardcoded into the binary?

Re:Well duh...Security... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756610)

Security is an issue here. One reason that packages are spread across the file system is so that some of the file systems that are used can be mounted readonly or non-executable. I think that some common sense changes could be made to improve (newbie) usability of The Files System Standard, but being able to treat different areas of the file system, or program directories, with different attributes is central to usability and security. Also, NFS, again - for security reasons, is hardly the technology I would use to implement this solution.

check out epkg too... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756434)

epkg [encap.org] is a related utility that I found very useful...

A good idea, here's why... (5, Funny)

heyitsme (472683) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756443)

It has been implemented in OS X. This is what happens when you drag a .app file (really, a folder. try to cd into one sometime) and copy it to any point on your hard disk (typically /Applications).

Reminds me of an old joke...

Microsoft: Where do you want to go today?
Linux: Where do you want to go tomorrow?
BSD (in this case, OS X): Are you guys coming or what?!?

Windows has had this for like eons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756446)

It's called Ghost. It's called unattended installs. It's called Zero Touch BDD using SMS 2003, PXE and Windows PE combined with RIS, disk imaging and group policy to deploy applications. Glad Linux is thinking the same way.

Arrrggg....Joe dont care ! (3, Insightful)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756451)

"a way that I believe is exactly what Linux needs to become a serious contender for Joe User's desktop"

While I appreciate the posters enthusiasm this is not a panacea for oe User putting Linux on the desktop. What is in my opinion is a scale of compatibilty with both hardware and software. I mean Joe User (or Joe Six Pack) Only cares if he can do what he need to with apps he wants to. NOT what someone else tells him is a better application. He wants to play his games, surf the web, doodle with his digital checks and balance his checkbook, Tell me of any GOOD applications the average computer illeterate could use to do his checkbook, edit his pictures etc that is as brainless as developers make them for Windows/Mac ? ZIP , There are GREAT apps for doing all those things but in general they are for much more sophisticated users. When Jp can go to CompUsa and buy anything he wants , games, tools, etc, that will run on Linux and has some support number he can call when he breaks shit THEN Joe will use Linux on the desktop.

Re:Arrrggg....Joe dont care ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756530)

you insensitive clod!!! my name is Joe!!

Yes (5, Informative)

mrsev (664367) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756471)

This sounds great. Im no linux guru and the hardest thing I find is to install a programme that requires other files but one version is required for one app and the other for another. In this age disk space is trivial and stability and ease of use much more important. Granted many people like tinkering with their systems but for me I just want to get my work done..(and then play games).

This is also what Microsoft is trying (5, Informative)

Koyaanisqatsi (581196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756482)

Flame as you want, but .Net assemblies not published to the GAC (Global Assembly Cache) are exactely like that: all of the application files are kept under a single directory and all you need to setup the app is a "xcopy" of its files.

Delete the directoty and the app is gone.

This is here now, and altough .Net still have to catch on into the desktop, it is very much real on the server side. Gotta love it!

Technophobe survey (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756486)

This hits it right on the head. I remember reading in a recent survey of technophobes that the main thing keeping them away from Linux was indeed the lack of a way to partition applications in their own directories, allowing the trivial installation of multiple versions of any application.

Hmm.. (0, Insightful)

arvindn (542080) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756505)

I don't like the running-from-network part. At work, I execute run mozilla (fire-whatever) over an NFS. Startup time is significantly increased: even though the LAN is fast, it appears that the latency of fetching a large number of config files and other small files adds up.

I wouldn't want to try that over the Internet.

Maybe I'm missing something?

Re:Hmm.. Yes you missed this (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756544)

The application is Cached and is not downloaded on the second attempt. The moderator that marked you post insightful is a idiot.

Re:Hmm.. Yes you missed this (-1, Troll)

arvindn (542080) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756612)

Idiot yourself. Of course its cached after the first execution, what I'm saying is that on the first attempt if each little file is to be downloaded separately it'll take forever.

If you can't understand English, shut up and don't post.

Isn't this one already on the list? (2, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756510)

You know, the list of single items that is what is needed to get Linux to JoeUser's desktop? I'm sure the concept was there already is not the exact tools to do it with.

My list contains 1 item. One word actually. Unification
The average computer user is not an IT person. They have problems when you upgrade their machine from 2000 to XP. Even if you give them XP with the old GUI.
They would not be OK having to know 3 or 4 different desktops just to stay marketable.

Likewise, 3 or 4 mail clients, 3 or 4 office suites, this is bad for them.
This might change in 10 or 15 years when the business world is dominated by people that grew up using personal computers. But right now that isn't the case.
And I fully realize my list is mine and yours may differ. But isn't that the problem?

Why I dislike about installing softwareunder Linux (3, Insightful)

mst76 (629405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756525)

Most of the time you're assumed to have root access, especially with rpm and deb. This is supposed to be a multi-user system, right? What if I want to give users the ability to install end-user apps in their own /home to try out? Should I tell them to download the source and tweak the makefiles so make install will behave correctly? Is there no better way to do this?

Store display problem (2, Interesting)

nilspace (676196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756528)

I remember reading an article by Dvorak where he was looking at computers in a consumer electronics retail chain. As he was standing there, a young man walked into the store, jacked his iPod into a mac on display with firewire, drag and dropped the Office.X folder from the mac to his iPod, unjacked and walked out.

Unfortunately, ease of use can obviously be abused, but in such ingenious ways. ;)

I thought I've done it in my LFS two years ago? (2, Insightful)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756540)

Installing different packages in their own directories... this is nothing new.
Indeed, this has been specified in the FHS (Filesystem Hierarchy Standary) long long time ago. This is what the /opt tree is for.
[pathname.com]

Indeed, I've always been wondering why major Linux distributors haven't been using the /opt tree for simplicity, but kept on keeping all the files together in /usr and /usr/local. That's a hell to clean up when your rpm or apt doesn't work.

Famous last words (1)

loyalsonofrutgers (736778) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756541)

"This is something even the greatest of technophobes could understand and use with ease."

Overstating a bit much? There are people out there, a surprising amount no doubt, that would have trouble using a system that consisted of one giant button on the screen if you didn't walk them through it. Most 'technophobes', and a great deal many of your average users probably as well, don't install software at all. Their computer comes with office, and a web browser, and an email program, and that's all they use. Or, if they do get around to installing something, it sits on their computer until the end of time. Once again this is an overstimation of how similar your typical technically knowledgeable linux user is to the average user, and in this case your average technophobe.

duplicate detection, copy on write (3, Insightful)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756545)

Yes, it's nice to include all the dependencies in a single directory. However, there is a reason why not every Gnome desktop accessory includes 500M of Gnome libraries--disk space is cheap, but it isn't that cheap.

Something like Zero Install should be combined with some form of duplicate file detection or duplicate block detection and sharing. Furthermore, to avoid a lot of tricky bookkeeping, there should be copy-on-write. And that kind of functionality really is best implemented in the file system itself. So, something to think about for the next major release of "ext". (Note that Microsoft is implementing something like this, but they certainly weren't the first to come up with it.)

Note that the same thing should also happen on downloads: you only download application components you don't already have locally. NFS isn't a good protocol for that, but WebDAV could handle it.

Hey, Rube! (1)

grikdog (697841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756547)

I agree, /usr, /opt, etc. is a helluva way to run a railroad. The OS should roll in, set up its big top and get out of the way of the actual circus - composed of primadonnas who won't be happy without their own vans and three feet of grass to tan on. Mac OS X does a fair job of this, but the underlying BSD Unix stuff is not safe to wander through without a guide. The fact that we're still using Unix twenty years after the Apple Lisa came out should tell us something about what sysops want. The fact that Bill Gates made billions with a cheesy product like Windows should tell us something about what users who pay for this stuff want. The rest is just friction.

YAWN. That is SO 4 years ago (1, Insightful)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756548)

and you say linux isn't copying OS X.

I'm surprised OS X isn't mentioned at the top.

Zeroinstall. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756549)

You only get the performance hit when you try to run an app that lacks local components for the first time.

It goes over the net, and runs it ( Yeah, slow loading, yadda yadda ). But as it's doing this, downloading the app, getting libs, etc, it's building a local cache. The second time you run the app, it uses the local copy.

So executing a app you don't have 'installed' installs the app. After that, it's just like running the app off your local hd.

Filesystem Hierarchical Standard (1)

$calar (590356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756551)

"The apps are all self-contained in their own directory; binaries, docs, source code and all."

Does this violate the FHS?

Re:Filesystem Hierarchical Standard (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756567)

The FHS specified that you can install packages independently in /opt.

See it here [pathname.com]

Re:Filesystem Hierarchical Standard (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756579)

Does it matter?

The FHS is why UNIX seems so cryptic to a lot of people I know.
I think it needs to be done away with.

Linux version of clippy? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8756575)

It looks like you're trying to run an application. Would you like to:
  1. Download the latest sourcecode and compile it? (~30 minutes)
  2. Download the pre-compiled binary? (~5 minutes)
  3. Just use the version you downloaded yesterday? (~1 second)
>3

You've chosen to run the version you downloaded yesterday. Are you SURE you want to do that? There could be a newer version available. You can't call yourself a hacker if you don't have the latest version.

  1. Yes I'm sure. Just run the program.
  2. I might have mistyped. Show me the options again.
  3. Reboot.
>1

Ok, but only because you insist.

Starting "/usr/bin/bash"...

Just like MacOS (1)

chrysalis (50680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756576)

This is the way MacOS works since day one.

This is the way Atari (TOS) computers are working since day one.

In fact this is the way almost any non-Windows non-Unix operating system works.

For people who have not run into this before... (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756581)

Yes, Mac OS X does this. Actually the idea is even more like the method I first encountered in NeXT. Yep, another development of Steve.

This is not to say it is a bad idea, in fact I happen to like the idea a lot. It would pracically eliminate concerns over what version of clib you needed. The installer would effectively do a "locate" for the presumed filename for the library, poll each copy found to determine what version is installed, if it finds a usable version it does a hardlink of that file into it's own directory. If no useable versions are installed, it downloads a usable version into it's own directory, and moves along.

The "path" for the program would look something like:

${APPLICATION}/bin:${APPLICATION}/lib:/bin:/lib: /u sr/bin:/usr/lib

and so forth.

Hardlinking to the file should mean that if the original is upgraded, the install application would "delete" it from it's original location, which means that only that folder would loose a link to the file, all the other applications would remain hardlinked to the file.

Then again, I could be wrong.

-Rusty

About Licensing (1)

craXORjack (726120) | more than 10 years ago | (#8756608)

If I understand it right, if I statically compile against a GPL library, that makes my app GPL'd. But I can compile against a shared object and it will not affect which licenses I can release under because I am only referencing GPL'd code rather than incorporating that code into my application. But with this 0install system I could use shared libraries and include those GPL'd libraries in the same directory along with their source and basically get the same convenience that I would by compiling statically? No more library version, dependency heck for my users? And the library authors who released under GPL still get what they want by allowing Free access for everyone to their code? And the only drawback seems to be additional disk space and bandwidth usage which continue to get cheaper and cheaper. That sounds pretty sweet!
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