ports and PBIs

Sam Fourman Jr. sfourman at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 06:06:10 UTC 2010

On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 8:31 PM, Julian Elischer <julian at elischer.org> wrote:
> sorry for the cross-post..
> Last night at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group meeting we had
> a discussion about ports, and what is good about them and what
> is bad about them. This has been a topic of discussion quite a
> bit recently and we were looking for a solution that would
> allow us to keep the good parts of the current ports system
> but would allow us to give a better user experience for non
> guru users.
> The scheme we came up with involves a merging of the
> ports tree and the PBI system, developed for PC-BSD.
> Basically, the addition of a makepbi keyword in the .mk
> files to allow the automatic generation of PBIs for 'simple'
> ports such as 'cowsay' (the canonical simple app).
> More complicated apps would need manual work in Makefile or
> in a separate pbi-recipe file, but once the support was done
> we could proceed one port at a time.  Not all ports make sense
> in a PBI format. (e.g. libraries etc. may not)

I for one support this Idea, and at a BoF FreeBSD Desktop session at BSDCan 2008
one of my suggestions was to have FreeBSD "bless PBI's" I think this
is good For PC-BSD.
and in return it is GREAT for FreeBSD, as it will widen the user base
and hopefully attract a few more good developers.

keep this discussion going, because there isn't mush of a downside so
far as I can see.

Sam Fourman Jr.

> One issue that was raised is the increase of storage
> overhead when using PBI packages as they include a copy of
> all required libraries and resources, which means that one would
> very quickly get duplicate copies of things.
> Our suggestions include the ability of the PBI management software
> to resolve and (using hard links) eliminate duplicate items.
> This is not as easy as it sounds but can be achieved using a
> special variant of 'objcopy' (at least that is our theory).
> The aim is to make all apps installed on a system much more
> resilient to dependency problems.
> In addition there was discussion on how builds need to be doable as non-root
> uids sometimes, and that users on a system should be
> able to install packages (PBIs) as thie selves to get local
> versions of apps for themselves.
> Alfred Perlstein , Matt at ix systems Kris (Mr PBI), some
> others and I, felt that these ideas seemed to make some sense
> and so I put them here for comment.

> Julian
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