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Re: Microsoft/Marimba/W3C Open Software Description (OSD)

> What's wrong with dselect/dpkg-ftp ? _(;

Not too much, it's the best thing out there right now.  :-)

> Seriously through: we may implement this, but I doubt it'll be a great
> leap forward for us, however we'd be able to say "Debian is one of the
> first Unix to implement this". (But I really can't think of any other
> benefit)

Basically, this standard is a signal that Microsoft is seriously starting
to consider the use of "packages" just like we use in Linux.  Of course, 
they are doing this because Marimba is forcing the issue of ESD (Electronic 
Software Distribution) via their Netscape partnership.  Marimba is
positioning their Castanet client (also incorporated into Netscape
NetCaster) as a tool for selecting and installing software that is
distributed electronically.

Of course, Marimba's technology is extremely primitive when compared to
dpkg.  It's basically a glorified mirror script -- and it's tied 
fairly tightly to Java.  It's interesting that they've decided they
now need dependencies.  I wrote something to that effect a long time
ago on their mailing list.  Microsoft has got some things up their
sleeves too w.r.t. packaging (IE4 includes "push" capabilities).

Apparently, they haven't noticed yet that we Linux'ers (especially
Debian) have a relatively mature, tested technologies for doing
packaging.  And "Electronic Software Distribution" too.
Perhaps they are ignoring us because we're "Unix" and really have
no bearing on them -- I don't think they've heard of Cygnus's
GNU-Win32 package.

Microsoft and Marimba are making efforts to standardize things because
it would be difficult for both parties to have separate ESD systems
that didn't talk to each other.  A Linux analogy:  imagine installing 
rpm and dpkg on one system.  How do you resolve dependencies?  How do
you keep the packaging systems from colliding?  Standards are needed.  
Microsoft and Marimba are putting the groundwork in place for this sort
of work (using the W3C).  Perhaps we could benefit from it ourselves.

What this means is that the end user will have a choice as to what front
end they are going to use for their "channel changer/package selection tool".
They will also be able to use multiple different ones.  

Microsoft will probably extend their "Manage Subscriptions" interface 
in IE4 and join it to their "Add/Remove Programs" interface in the 
Control Panel.  All the items that appear in the selection lists will 
be represented by XML files (.osd files for software, and .cdf files
for channels).  Note that they essentially have this working already
for .cdf files.

So Microsoft wants to merge the concept of "channels" and "packages".
I think they're essentially the same thing myself.  I'd argue that
dpkg-ftp is functionally the same as a "push" client - and 
dselect/diety/glint play the role of "channel changers".  I'm working
on some packages that will enable more efficient "push"-style 
updating of packages -- this will blur the distinction between a
channel and a package even further.

I figure that when we get the Debian GNU/Win32 thing working, some people
may choose to package their software using dpkg instead of using
proprietary MS/Marimba/InstallShield/Netscape tools.  They could possibly
install Debian packages/channels using the standard Microsoft software
selection tool.  Maybe they could choose to use Diety v2 instead of the
standard Microsoft tool. 

What I find exciting is that somebody will be able to select a 
Debian package/channel just like how they would usually select a 
Microsoft package/channel or a Marimba/Netscape package/channel.  As 
soon as they do that, the dependencies would require them to install 
the entire Debian GNU/Win32 base system.  Frankly, we've got such a 
great selection of packages/channels - it would be hard to ignore us.

Sorry, just me dreaming of TWD (Total World Domination) again.   :-)

(I guess I'll have to finish my debdelta package, the Debian GNU/Win32
 cross-compiler and base system, and dwww too...  
          arrrrrggggh - too many ideas, too little time)


 - Jim

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