Striving for greatness

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Mix a tight package GUI with Gentoo for Summer of Code

PackageKit is this amazing idea of having a tool for managing packages that works identically on every distribution. It’s got both a GUI and a command-line tool, called pkcon. Check out some screenshots. To reach that goal, it has to actually work on every distro.

Wouldn’t it be great if PackageKit worked on Gentoo? You could make that happen! Three major package managers work with Gentoo: portage, paludis, and pkgcore. Working on this as a Summer of Code project means you’d write a PackageKit backend for one of these package managers, in the process learning the API of each and working with PackageKit founder Richard Hughes, me, the developers of one of the package managers, and the broader Gentoo and PackageKit communities.

Three potential applicants have already talked with me about this, so space is limited. You can reach me by email or on IRC ( as dberkholz) if you’d like to talk about your ideas.

Summer of Code applications are only open until April 1, 0000 UTC, so apply now!


Written by Donnie Berkholz

March 28, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with ,

9 Responses

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  1. Hey, great blog, thanks. Random question: Why is my link pointing to a portage project page? 🙂

    Richard Hughes

    March 28, 2008 at 1:54 pm

  2. Because I suck at copy and paste — pointed to your LJ instead, which is what I intended in the first place.

    Donnie Berkholz

    March 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

  3. I think your feed to Gentoo Planet/Universe is a lil’ bit messed up. Take a look.

    The entry heading under your full name reads “Donnie,” rather than the title of the entry (“Mix a tight package GUI with Gentoo for Summer of Code”), as everyone else’s does. Not sure if this is on your end, or something beandog should fix in Planet.

    Just FYI!

    By the way, PackageKit seems interesting. First I’ve heard of it. I doubt that it’ll ever be on all, or even most distros though. Maybe the big four .deb/.rpm-based ones, and two or three others, but the only thing that seems to have really taken off across all distros is the Linux kernel itself.

    Too bad it’s only for graphical package managers, too. Not every distro has them available. Heck, not every distro has a library or other backend for their primary package manager for PackageKit to work with! Arch Linux & pacman come to mind.

    Still, the screenshots are awesome. PackageKit can do some amazing things, so I’d love to see this come to Gentoo at least. Why should Ubuntu have all the update notification icon fun? 🙂


    March 28, 2008 at 3:35 pm

  4. Josh,

    I already noticed the title problem and reported it to the appropriate places. Apparently WordPress RSS feeds are just broken and you need to use the Atom feeds instead.

    I’m not sure I followed the rest of your comment. PackageKit is a graphical package app that calls out to the various package managers to do tasks. It could just run them in the console if it had to, no need for a library, and no need for the distro to already have some native GUI.

    Donnie Berkholz

    March 28, 2008 at 3:42 pm

  5. What’s the point? It forces people to use the lowest common functional denominator. If people wanted to avoid having to learn anything in exchange for a massive loss of control, they shouldn’t be using Gentoo.

    Ciaran McCreesh

    March 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm

  6. Ciaran,

    One use case I could envision for Gentoo is taking advantage of the PolicyKit integration. Let the sysadmin do whatever with emerge, let a subset of users who may be less clueful about Gentoo perform basic installation tasks like add new packages they need. This is exactly the case I’d like at my work.

    Donnie Berkholz

    March 28, 2008 at 8:12 pm

  7. We discussed something similar already in #gentoo-guis (long) time ago 🙂 …

    See … – so if you really want a pkgkit backend, it can be based on Catapult – reducing the need to write three backends 😉

    (Currently catapult itself only has a portage provider – but this should change ^^)


    March 29, 2008 at 4:46 am

  8. Necoro,

    I’ve looked at Catapult a little. That’s another interesting option to consider and I hadn’t thought about it for a little while, so thanks for the reminder!

    Donnie Berkholz

    March 29, 2008 at 11:19 am

  9. PackageKit would be a really good idea to promote new users or for the users that have Gentoo put on their pc by people like us. I like the idea.

    Dirk Gently

    March 29, 2008 at 5:27 pm

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