Friday, September 16, 2016

Tribblix philosophy - software fidelity and currency

One of the key things about Tribblix is that it is very light-touch.

Partly this is out of necessity - this is a part-time endeavour for one person, and I do what I can to minimize the amount of effort I have to put in.

So, as far as possible, I don't change what I get from upstream.

For illumos, I'm as vanilla illumos-gate as you can get (I make one change to the SVR4 packaging tools, important to me as I'm the only distro based on illumos-gate who uses SVR4 packaging).

For other packages, apart from setting the install prefix, I only make changes necessary for applications to build and run. I make no real attempts to tweak or flavour them for Tribblix, you get as much as possible what the original author intended.

This is deliberate, who am I to decide to change the behaviour of somebody else's software?

Also, it makes maintenance easier, as I don't have to try and port patches forward to new versions.

Talking about new versions, I try and keep current. Yes, this implies a rolling release model, of sorts. If there's a problem with a package, I'll roll it forward to a newer release. I won't backport fixes to an older version, I'll simply push out the newer version.

If I can, that is. Sometimes a newer version is broken and doesn't work or won't build. Sometimes a newer version requires an update somewhere else, so it gets stalled and dumped back on the TODO list until the other component gets updated. Sometimes, especially for libraries, the new version isn't API compatible, so anything using it will also need to be rebuilt. This tends to get blocked, although I occasionally go in and update a whole dependency tree at once (which is a pain to do).

Fortunately, most of the core packages have learnt the value of compatibility. Things such as X11, Glib, D-Bus, Cairo, Pango, Gtk, most of the core desktop stack are never much of an issue. (Although because of their position in the dependency tree, I tend to be fairly cautious when I do have to touch them.)

No comments: