[Fedora-packaging] easing external software installation - discussion

David Timms dtimms at iinet.net.au
Mon Jan 12 14:35:59 UTC 2009

Hi (again),

I would like to make it easier to install external software on a fedora 
system. My specific example is vmware-server and vmware-server-console, 
but as was suggested by others, once a precedent is set, surely other 
(unknown) external software would be requested to get this assistance.

The specific case I'm considering is the situation where a packager 
would like to ease the installation of software on Fedora that can't be 
in Fedora due to either upstream or fedora reasons. An example is:
[5] https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=478007

In this case, there is multiple issues:
- the external package is not freely re-distributable.
- the external rpm does not have a source package.
- the external binary rpm package is a generic package for all distros 
archs, and releases, and doesn't know about fedora specific package 
naming / requires / file locations.
- the rpm (or pre-built source) needs i386 libraries on an x86_64 system.
- it is unlikely that the upstream package will create a fedora specific 
rpm set (ie arch and releases)
- people do still want to use such external packages on fedora systems

The immediate private solution is to create a meta-package - this needed 
also other non-preferred tricks (requires: filename) so that i386 libs 
would get installed on a x86_64 system. While the end result actually 
works, various people have trouble with:

- use of metapackages (see earlier fedora-packaging list discussion 
starter on metapackages)

- the fact that this is making it easier to use non-free software in fedora

It seems the preferred solution is to use comps groups (yet I don't 
think that they can solve the needing i386 libs on x86_64 problem).

- It has been suggested that if such a group was committed, "a line 
would form to revert the change".

- It suggests that Fedora somehow supports the external software. This 
might allow fedora users to expect solutions to problems in the external 

I would like to know in what ways an acceptable solution to this issue 
could be found. For example, do we want fedora to specifically exclude 
users from running external (as in not packaged in Fedora) software. Or 
just make it hard for them ? Could those individuals that are rejecting 
such groups or metapackages just ignore the fact that such things exist 
in Fedora, and let those people that it will assist get on with using 
their Fedora system how they want to ?

Could we have an "external software requirement" category or 
sub-category in comps that packagers could use to put together similar 
groups of packages needed by specific external software packages - like:
|- Desktop
|- Servers
|- Languages
|- External software installation requirements
   { eases the install of external software by installing Fedora 
packages that such software needs to be able to run on Fedora. The 
external software will still need to be obtained from it's distributor, 
will often need further manual configuration to be usable, and is not 
supported by the Fedora project }
   |-- ldap browser
   |-- vmware server
   |-- vmware server console

Is the fact that the external software is mentioned by name a potential 
problem ? Would for example "pc virtualization server" resolve that ?

Are there any real problems in any of the above ?


David Timms.

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