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Some notes on OpenSolaris packaging

Thanks to the fine folks at Belenix and OpenIndiana, the package serving mechanism for the KDE4 OpenSolaris packages has changed. Changed for the better, because we now use Apache HTTPD to serve up the files themselves. This removes one of the big issues with our earlier package-serving setups, which was that connections and downloads were unreliable and it could take many many attempts to get a large file.

The trick is to use Apache with a reverse proxy (ProxyPass directive) to pass on some requests to an internal pkg.depotd and to use a rewrite rule to modify other requests to match the on-disk layout of the repository. Sriram N, Shawn W and Alastair helped out in finally pushing this out the door.

As a side effect, the correct publisher to use for KDE 4.5.3 packages — including the Plasma Desktop, KDE Platform and KDE applications — has changed. We will no longer be futzing with port numbers in public, but instead have a human-readable URL. To set up your system to use the latest KDE packages, use

pkg set-publisher -O kdeips-dev

That particular URL will only serve 4.5.3 packages and such updates and additional applications as slip in. Eventually, we will get a /4.5.4/ package repository as well. We’re still debating a little on how to do a “4.5″ or “latest everything” repository. Some measure of deduplication would be nice if we’re going to be serving up multiple repositories.

SysV packaging: On a vaguely related note, I’ve regularly had to battle SysV packaging on OpenSolaris. The legacy packaging system (pkgadd, pkginfo) and the new package system (IPS, with pkg as the main tool) are usually well-integrated, but there are edge cases that break stuff — usually the legacy bits. However, the build system (pkgbuild, which is pretty much rpmbuild for Solaris as I understand it) uses the legacy package system for information even while it builds modern packages. So that means I sometimes have to fool pkginfo(1) into thinking that a particular package is installed (or not).

To fool pkginfo(1), you need to manipulate the directories in /var/sadm/pkg. There is a directory there for every package on the system that is known to the legacy packaging system. To hide a package, just thrown away the directory (probably tar it up). Each directory holds a pkginfo file, which is a straightforward key=value file; to tell pkginfo that a package exists, just create a directory of the appropriate name and copy an existing pkginfo file in there, then adjust the contents so it vaguely makes sense. The important settings seem to be PKG and PKGINST. The rest is important only if you’re dealing with officially supported software.

Future of Solaris10 packaging: The specfile repository that we maintain has a lot of material that is there specifically to support Solaris 10. The people who are active in the repository don’t use S10, and I think the complexity imposed by supporting OSOL and S10 is starting to hurt. If we’ve got a complexity budget, it would be much better spent in supporting OSOL and OI (e.g. the future) instead of the past. No concrete plans yet, but I can imagine us tagging the repo at some point with eol-s10 and then ditching all the Solaris 10 support. Thanks to repository history, it’s not really gone, but won’t burden us in the future.

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