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goddang
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 11:49 am    Post subject: Anyone tried "The Zero Install system"? Reply with quote

I just read this article: http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/1049/
it looks pretty promising, anyone tried and have some feedback?

I couldn't find any ebuild for it yet.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 7:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Anyone tried "The Zero Install system"? Reply with quote

goddang wrote:
I just read this article: http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/1049/
it looks pretty promising, anyone tried and have some feedback?

I couldn't find any ebuild for it yet.


i don't get it.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody requested an ebuild yet. Also the following quote from the website indicates that it's more a proof-of-concept than a real working system right now (didn't test it, so I might be wrong):
Quote:
It's still under development, but the examples given here already work.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zero Install still needs to mature, the idea is very promising imo. A quick and easy "front-end" to install programs.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

personally, i dont see a point to this.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zero Install is the logical opposite extreme of portage. For years people have complained about the problems involved with installing sofware, deleting it and resolving library conflicts. Most of the *major* Linux distros use RPM- which is a trully horrible system for managing packages-the reason I will never use a binary-based package management system again, except Debian, and only If I must(don't be fooled by apt-get/synpatic for RPM distros- they only put a band-aid on the problem, they don't resolve it).

Portage is an answer to this problem, which goes one step further than apt-get. Apt-get for Debian is a *good* binary-based package system- but Portage is superior, because it allows for SLOT based emerges, allowing parallel install of multiple version of a given library. Portage-ng should tremendously improve the reverse dependency system used by Portage, something which we will all really appreciate.

Binary package managers are all fundamentally limited- this is why Portage has been such a breakthru in the Linux world, even though it is not the only system to do so-their are a couple of alternatives, like ROCK, onebase,lunar sourcemage and sorcer-but none of these has achieved anywhere near the popluarity of Gentoo, and provide only a fraction of the packages available for Gentoo. Moreover LFS has been around for a long time-ie. no package management system. SO the solution to binary package management has been to return to the SOURCE(Luke!).

This is where Zero Install comes into play. Zero Install is intimately tied into ROX, and if and when there is a ROX based distro(one is already in the works) it will use Zero Install as its solution to the problems listed above. ROX has an approach to application management which is not unlike, on a very superficial level, that which one knew under oldworld Mac's. The application *IS* the directory where it's installed-or the directory *IS* the application. These ideas are also the basis of Zero Install. No one can really vouch for how good these systems are because there exists no Linux distro which uses these technologies natively-ie. where the whole system is based on this.

Zero Install adds a line to you /etc/fstab and installs a kind of virtual file system, which is itself transparently integrated with the web. Any time one wants to use a program one simply opens the folder containg the program and clicks on the program. What happens is that the program and all of its dependencies are cached locally in the Zero Install file system. This whole process runs with user priveledges. Programs are not installed, they and their dependent libraries are simply cached-there is no configuration, no installation and no un-installing required.

Now one cannot install an entire system like this: it presupposes that a base system with xfree, GNOME/KDE already exists and is already functioning. The idea is that applications can simply be cached on demand, provided that the system has certain basic stuff already installed and configured on the system, in essence it simply extends the notion of system requirements. Given that such is available, new programs can be used without installation, and dependency problems are non-existent due to automatic, yet manually manipulable, dependency resolution. (ie. you can choose which versions of which programs you want to run, and you can have 10 versions of the same program running side by side!)

At present there are only a handful of programs available through Zero Install, and there is *zero* integration in terms of desktop,ie. menus, icons, and *zero* integration with other programs already installed on the system, which portage makes possible thru USE flags. Yet a distro based on ROX with Zero Install would present an integrated implementation of this technology. This stuff is really cool.

Imagine this : you have an LTSP server with 50 client machines. You setup your own Zero Install mirror with the packages you wish to make availble to your users. The user simply opens up Rox-filer and selects the apps which they want to use. Since they are not installing them, there is no need to ever worry about library resolution problems, and they, as users, can do what they want without your administrative intervention. Users can even use the Rox-file to find other apps in the internet and use them without you, as administrator ever having to worry about what they are doing......

The system is built with security in mind- the packages are signed with GPG keys and runs with user priveledges. The first time a program is run, it may take sometime to download everything, but thereafter everything is cached and instantly available....


I installed it and have used it. It works now and looks very promising.

I also posted the following on OSnew recently:
Quote:
The bane of Linux has been its package management. And package mangement is alone the single largest factor in the fragmentation of Linux. Due to the fundamental relationship between how binary packages are managed and the ensuing structure of the operating system, no real headway can be made towards creating a unified Linux. But other options exist.

Firstly if the Linux distro is so constructed as to work from source package management becomes simply a question of compilation time. Given time, source based distros put an end to the problems of binary package management. Secondly, things like zero-install, may in the broadband future, completely surpass all existing package management solutions. Imagine turning on a computer built with an open bios which automatically boots with an internet connection and a browser appears with an assortment of software categorized by utility- the user clicks on the software they want to use and voila-the application appears, and is cached to be used again without access to the internet.This is the idea of zero-install, and it may change what we associate with computers, when and if broadband becomes ubiquitous.

Binary package management problems are easily solved: either avoid binaries, or avoid management. A hybrid of these two variants may well pose a future of Linux- meta-distros(distros which return to the source) plus zero-install. Shy of this we will end up having 200-300 distros, based on binary package management, each having a targeted user-base, each being radically delimited in terms of scope of usage, ie. we will have more of the that which we already have.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zero install is remarkable. But I hate to think of the hacks they used to make software run in its bizarre hierarchy, in which where you downloaded the software from plays a part in the path.

It is basically on-demand software.

But I have to agree with some of the trolls - Linux, as it is, is far too heterogenous to allow for one-binary-fits-all. Mainly: it runs on many more platforms than one can sanely have compilers for. Zero-install will undoubtedly form its own distro.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it does have a nice sound to it ...but i still don't trust it.

running everything from the cache? ...come on ...imagine running something that's not a simple rox&memo example ...think something like KDE or OOo :]
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:54 am    Post subject: User Gentoo installations Reply with quote

I agree that this is very cool. However, I think it is only cool for some things. Also, Gentoo could provide many of the advantages this type of system has. By changing the install prefix to a directory in a user's home directory, an application can be installed without root privilages.

Also, while statically linking things sucks (IMHO), it would be cool if packages that are not very stable had statically linked binaries available as a fallback. I know some applications do provide this. It would be nice to see the community move in that direction.

These things would be nice for just installing an app quick and playing around with it. Maybe some of this will end up in portage-ng
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:59 am    Post subject: The cache thing has some issues Reply with quote

So, does each user have their own cache? They must. Or does the program run suid root? That would defeat many of the main advantages. If users do not share a cache, that could be a lot of wasted disk space. If users share the cache, who owns the cache? If I can modify someone elses cache, ... do you see where I am going with this?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:07 pm    Post subject: Zero install and ROX Reply with quote

As I understand it, there's a shared cache which is never really "seen" in itself but simply, as it says, as a cache of the remote resource.

The previous post mentioning the link with ROX is the key to understanding the motivation behind this. ROX came out the the idea of taking some features from RISCOS and building them on linux.

I grew up with computing on RISCOS and still think it's fantastic. The company that created it (Acorn computers) also designed the original ARM processor and that was ultimately their undoing - the value of their ARM Ltd. shares was worth more than the entire company and they were snapped up and liquidated by an investment capital company... :-(

99% of my computing is on linux now but of all the OSs I've tried - from Windows to MacOS, from Gnome to wm2 to KDE to fluxbox; RISCOS still has the most intuitive efficient GUI of the lot It's blisteringly fast, even on what's now really old hardware, and it uses drag'n'drop EVERYWHERE.

There are many many features of RISCOS that I really miss and Application directories is one of them. It's true that you'd never put something like KDE in an application directory-something as fundamental as that would have been in ROM on RISCOS; but applications (as opposed to os infrastructure) fit into this model quite well. KDE is actually something which could really benefit from this as the install is becoming increasingly monolithic and I think separate application directories for Kopete, KMail etc.. would be great. It leads to a more modular design but that's good as you then HAVE to use well defined and transparent interfaces between applications. Many good applications do this anyway but I like software infrastructures which force good design....

Anyway, sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant but this sort of thing is fundamental to the long term success of linux. It's because linux is open to radically new ways of doing things that I am confident that it will eventually end up with the best way, or at least a choice ;-)

Daniel.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive tried to get that install going but w7out much success, I do however use rox-filer and session.
great software.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Genone wrote:
Nobody requested an ebuild yet. Also the following quote from the website indicates that it's more a proof-of-concept than a real working system right now (didn't test it, so I might be wrong):
Quote:
It's still under development, but the examples given here already work.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I installed it and tried it out, pretty cool. I was working on an ebuild, but I can't figure out how to get it to build against the kernel source (sandbox problems I think), so it doesn't work yet. If I ever find more info on how to do this right, I'll finish it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

verbatim re-read port001's post above. there is an ebuild submitted that you can download from there.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd hate to see a zero based enviironment during one of those days when the next blaster ravages the internet. "I can't run Wordprocessor! Where's PresenterMagic?" Response "The network's down because bob was downloading naughty-vision." But seriously it might initiate a whole new generation of overweight thin clients. Neat idea.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dol-sen wrote:
verbatim re-read port001's post above. there is an ebuild submitted that you can download from there.


That's a request...
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 12:36 pm    Post subject: Tiny correction Reply with quote

IWBCMAN wrote:
No one can really vouch for how good these systems are because there exists no Linux distro which uses these technologies natively-ie. where the whole system is based on this.


This is true; however, NeXTSTEP pioneered and successfully used a similar system with its .app system, and that was a Mach/BSD OS.

There were a couple of caveats. Not everything was based on .apps. Many (all?) shared libraries were installed in standard places, like /lib. In general, it was only the GUI applications which were packaged as .apps. It did, however, work quite well, and you could avoid library dependancies by getting statically linked versions of the applications, and install different versions of an application, and could relocate or delete entire apps simply by dealing with the <application>.app/ directory.

Zero-Install has a lot of potential, but I agree with what you say: it is unlikely that a distribution based *entirely* on Zero-Install would be built -- there'd need to be a lot of shell work, using a technology like stow or graft to make the system look like a standard LFS system to shell applications.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RISC OS, which the ROX project was inspired by, used application directories for everything. The problem came with multiple versions of libraries.

0install looks very promising, but I think one of the most serious issues with 0install is that it's so radically different from the current scheme. It looks like it's going to be quite difficult to push all of the current applications and libraries over to it.

Application directories were fine under RISC OS because it was designed from the ground up to use them. Applications were self-contained; common functionality was thrown into a "System" application which through the somewhat nasty scheme of boot-scripts that were executed before opening a directory, automatically loaded all the required modules (RISC OS had things called relocatable modules (RMs) which were somewhere between kernel modules and system daemons). Anyway, the point is that the philosophy was that almost everything was monolithic, whereas Linux has inherited the philosophy from UNIX which says that you build something large from a lot of tiny little pieces, each of which has well-defined functionality - which is the root of dependency problems.

It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out. I certainly think this is something that has had some thought put into it, and is at least worth of investigating.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About libraries: Supposing a program needs a library, it sits in a dependancy system like Portage's, and gets copied to the cache dir as a sort of a cache/lib. Then you add that directory into $LD_LIBRARY_PATH and go on working as usual.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

teknomage1 wrote:
I'd hate to see a zero based enviironment during one of those days when the next blaster ravages the internet. "I can't run Wordprocessor! Where's PresenterMagic?" Response "The network's down because bob was downloading naughty-vision." But seriously it might initiate a whole new generation of overweight thin clients. Neat idea.


You do realize that the programs are NOT executed in some far-off server?
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like an uncontrollable application server. Who is this for? I can't see a company using this where they have no control and see no gains over a standard application server.

As a home user, or even small company is this really beneficial?
I mean is that any different than a server on your lan sharing it's /usr/bin and /usr/lib directory, then the current user that logs in mounts /usr/bin to ~/bin, /usr/lib to ~/lib? At least with a lan setup, you have a controlled environment. Even if you could put the repository inside your lan... why bother?

I don't think this idea will take off... It's an amazingly bright solution to a problem that's already been solved and I fail to see any tangible benefits imo.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2004 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rfujimoto wrote:
Sounds like an uncontrollable application server.


You mean a server which runs the apps only showing the output in the local machine? It's _NOT_ like that at all!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you need an analogy for what this is like, try looking at Java WebStart (JNLP.)

1. All the code you download is cached, so it is not slow. /var/cache/zero-inst is a cache for /uri/0install.

2. All the code you run is automatically updated, so it is not stale. When you run something, if some period of time has passed it should check for a new version.

3. The real, possibly big, binary downloads can come from a different server than the original URI specified. This includes mirrors but supposedly they can even come over P2P which would pave the way for a BitTorrent-based zero-install distribution service.

4. All the code you download is signed, so the system can verify it. Java WebStart uses Java's internal signing for verification, Zero Install uses GPG. Downloads which came from a different site or even BitTorrent would be verified in exactly the same manner, using the public key found on the actual web site, so in the distributed scenario people can't just substitute binaries.

In general the whole thing looks pretty cool, and seems to work seamlessly. But here's another thought...

Why can't we have a Zero Install system which builds from source?

Is there a certain mental block stopping people considering that when Zero Install grabs an application, it might actually be grabbing source code and compiling it, with USE settings and compiler flags?

I don't see why a purely source distribution couldn't exist as a purely Zero Install-based system. You might have to add an equivalent to ebuilds to the Zero Install deployment, but that shouldn't be an issue. You would just have the owner of the application providing the ebuild in all cases.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2004 2:52 am    Post subject: This is an Awesome Idea Reply with quote

Just think how much this would solve system admin problems.

You only need one place to set the new application and it gets pushed to each of the clients.

It is like going back to the old days of computing running software through terminals.

I can see this happening in the future with Microsoft to manage who uses their software, with licensing and user. Just think of their next OS installl and .Net and whatever new framwork they Use

If this zero install works well it could make companies look a little harder at Linux, just drop an app on the server and every computer is updated.
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