ALFS Status: Past and future [was Re: new guy, newbie questions.]

Jesse Tie-Ten-Quee highos at
Mon Jan 21 20:40:49 PST 2002


On Sat, Jan 19, 2002 at 04:48:31AM -0500, Rob Landley wrote:
> This is only about half of a true package management system.  You also need 
> to be able to uninstall packages, upgrade existing packages, and to query the 
> system for what's installed and information about the configuration of what's 
> installed.  Package management needs an inventory database (which could very 
> well be XML based, sure).

Yes, but we aren't writting a package management system; at least not
quite yet.

The initial goals are to make a system to compile and install LFS without
user interaction, using XML "profiles" to describe the process.

Hopefully we will eventually add full package management support, but
that is a *huge* ball of wax and not something we should implement

> Are their data files compatable with your XML document type definition 
> thingy?  (Do you have a standard they're implementating variants of?  If not, 
> if you've defined and implemented a standard, would they be willing to change 
> to become compatable with it?)

Not really, there's basiclly two camps.

Those writting ALFS implementations with shell scripts, and don't
consider the use of XML or writting it in C/perl (or other languages)
usefull.. so i doubt they will become that standard, i know of about at
least 30 different ALFS shell script implementations. [it's either that,
or they don't know about ALFS; there's been alot of ppl in #LFS like
that recently or just like the idea of writting there own version]

Allthough someone could take the ALFS profiles and use XSLT to convert
them to there own data format, i do believe someone is implementing
this.  If not, they perhaps someone should consider approach :)

Then there are those that took the syntax i had been working on last summer
and improved and added to it, nALFS and "ALFS" (Mark Ellis's Perl ALFS)
are doing this, i'll need some time to look at all the changes they have
made.. this is a messy subject though.

Syntax like a few people have mentioned is really the heart and true
goal of ALFS, and it most likelly will never be quite "right" nor will
everyone agree to it.

Hopefully in the next few weeks we can iron something out that we *all*
agree on, if not...well, i'll just use what works and go from there.

Nothing is really "set in stone" yet and is all a "work in progress" so
anything can change.

> I.E. if gentoo doesn't have package X that Rock Linux has, would it be 
> possible to install package X from Rock Linux if it contained a little 
> snippet of this XML stuff to tell the package management system how?

Like i mentioned, we aren't making a full package management system...
yet.  But in theory, yeah.

> Okay, query: What IS the goal?  (Do you want to be a small educational linux 
> distribution?  A co-ordination point for other source-based distributions?  
> Some kind of test project?)

ALFS isn't about educating linux, that's what LFS's long term goal is.

This project is for those that have done LFS, but don't really feel like
doing all the manual work is entails.

In the long run however, anything is possible, short term goals is to
get an official ALFS implementation released that works.  Once that has
been finished, we can add all the "jazz" and other ideas everyone is
suggesting. (and have been suggesting since this mailing list started)

Certain features will most likelly be implemented, if i were to name a
few.. a full package management system could be one, allthough like i
said, that's a huge ball of wax :).  Making a "smart" profile would be
another, i know Gerard first suggested this way back when ALFS was first
being formed in 2000. (a profile that auto detects installation
instructions and information), etc.. i could write up several pages on
features that have been suggested.

> Is the contribution of the ALFS a specific tool, or the standard and a 
> collection point for the data files?

A standard and a collection point for data files, yes.
But we want to provide are own tool, that we can support and so forth.

The specification of the XML syntax (eg, "profile") and a DTD are the
main core goals.  Everything after that, apart from writting our own
tools and implementations are extra, at least at this time.

Again, nothing is set in stone really.

Jesse Tie-Ten-Quee  ( highos at linuxfromscratch dot org )
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