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In many distributions, package management appears to have reached a near standstill.For example, the RPM format has hardly changed in years.They both support sets, the additional dependency flexibility, integrated checking for security vulnerabilities, and Portage's on-disk format.Another useful feature they both support is the ability to restrict packages to install based on their licenses.In the past, new features or breaks in backwards compatibility in Portage simply forced a wait of roughly 6 months, at which point it was assumed that nobody was using those old Portage versions anymore. When new package managers came along, additional questions came up of which aspects of ebuild behavior were intrinsic behavior and which were Portage-specific details.With only one implementation and no spec, it's hard to draw a line.Paludis is implemented in C and bash, with a C API and an optional Ruby scripting API.
Its philosophy is to maintain complete backwards compatibility with Portage while recoding it in a clean, maintainable, extensible fashion.Once this spec is done, Gentoo will have a process in place for dealing with ebuilds using new features and for dealing with breaks in compatibility via setting in each ebuild the EAPI that ebuild supports.This will enable near-instant use of new features that Gentoo developers have already been awaiting for years as well as agreement upon how all these package managers must act in common and where they have flexibility to be different.Benefits for LWN subscribers The primary benefit from subscribing to LWN is helping to keep us publishing, but, beyond that, subscribers get immediate access to all site content and access to a number of extra site features. Package management is one of the key defining characteristics of a distribution.The question of where package management is going should be of interest to anyone involved with a distribution or administering a Unix-based box of any sort.