Entered as Exhibit A in the case of Analyst vs Information Overload is this little gem. While I like to consider myself fairly well connected and up to date on the latest in open source, I somehow managed to miss a project aimed squarely at one of my personal pet peeves – fragmented, and therefore incompatible, Linux package management solutions.
Fortunately for me, Ubuntu’s Jeff Waugh (a Friend of RedMonk) was kind enough to remedy (and not laugh at) my ignorance on the subject, giving me a quick rundown on the project. Smart Package Manager is a project that grew out of Connectiva/Mandriva, that is designed to alleviate what I believe to be one the more pressing concerns for Linux distributions today. While I have yet to test it – maybe tomorrow – it’s designed to allow users to leverage a variety of distro application repositories. Smart Package Manager users can, in theory, install applications from Debian, Mandriva, Novell, Red Hat or Slackware repositories.
This, in my humble opinion anyhow, is potentially a Very Big Deal. I’ve tried, mostly in vain, to impress on upon a variety of Linux players the redundancy implicit in the current package management approach, in which each Linux distro manages packages differently (and incompatibly). The first time I really heard any significant interest in the subject was back at LWE/Boston, when a number of parties expressed their dissatisfaction with the current package management landscape. For all that, however, no one had a realistic solution given the political (not technical) obstacles.
Smart Package Manager, however, may represent a technical solution to a political problem. Rather than having to have some independent standard, such as the LSB, attempt to tackle this problem through brute force consensus building, Smart may allow users to become library agnostic. Which distribution had the foresight to pick up Gustavo? Ubuntu, not too surprisingly. Consider that an Exhibit in the case for Ubuntu.
I’ll have more when I’ve been able to install and test Smart, but if you’re interested in Linux distributions I highly suggest you check it out.