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Some thoughts about yum and repositories

Judging from recent discussions on this list, it seems that many are
still confused about configuring their yum.conf files, and about all the
different repositories out there. I was wondering what we, the Fedora
community, might do to make this easier. I'm not so much thinking about
documentation -- it seems to me that FedoraFAQ.org does a pretty good
job of explaining stuff to people, however it still requires that they
find it or look for it in the first place. I was wondering if there was
something that could be done to yum itself (either the client program
itself, or the format of yum repositories) to make this easier.

Just off the top of my head, these things strike me as being potentially

     1. Yum repositories should have a mirrors.xml file. All the user
        need do is sign up to the main repository itself, the
        mirrors.xml file is downloaded, and yum tries to use the mirror
        that is closest or fastest (I'm not sure *how* it should do
        that, but lets think of this as an ideal scenario proposal).
     2. Yum repositories should be able to announce that they are
        dependent on other yum repositories: if I sign up to Livna.org I
        am then automatically signed up to Fedora.us.
     3. If 1. can be implemented, then I think the GPG key of the
        repository should automatically be installed -- because mirrors
        are determined automatically you only ever sign up to the main
        repository itself and so automatically retrieving its GPG key
        should be no more a security issue than manually adding it.
     4. I shouldn't need to alter my yum.conf when I upgrade to a new
        version of FC -- yum should determine which version of FC I am
        running and automatically use the appropriate repositories (i.e.
        if I subscribe to rpm.livna.org when running FC2 and then I
        upgrade to FC3 yum should automatically start using livna's FC3
     5. I should be able to subscribe to a repository from the command
        line without manually editing yum.conf (i.e. something like "yum
        subscribe rpm.livna.org").
     6. There should be some way of distinguishing between a repository
        that is part of Fedora Core, or Fedora Extras or Fedora
        Alternatives. Subscribing to a repository from Fedora
        Alternatives should warn the user of potential problems. I'm not
        sure quite how this should be done, but perhaps have something
        like "channels" which group repositories (and yum-arch should be
        altered so that you can't create a yum repository without
        declaring whether it is Core, Extras or Alternatives).
     7. If 6. could be implemented, then "channels" should be able to
        advise you what other repositories there were in a channel,
        together with a short description of what the repository
        provided. This would aid people in finding the right

If some of these things sound familiar that is because some of them are
features of Red Carpet, my favourite software installer and manager. I
would have liked to have seen red-carpet/rug/rcd adopted by Fedora Core,
but (a) it seems hardly anyone else wanted that, and (b) it looks like
Red Carpet may no longer be a standalone product but may have been
entirely integrated into Novell ZenWorks for Unix. However, if yum got
at least some of the above features I think it would be a vast
improvement, and I suspect we would have less problems reported on this

I'm really hoping some people might have other suggestions, or comments
on what I've said above.

Best, Darren

D. D. Brierton            darren dzr-web com          www.dzr-web.com
       Trying is the first step towards failure (Homer Simpson)

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