<-- home

A Sky Full of Bases... And Hands Full of TODOs!

Right, it’s about time to ping the blog again…

Late November and early December’s been quite fulfilling, and there couldn’t be anything better than celebrating the community’s 5th anniversay - can’t belive it’s been half a decade - and I almost forgot to write the news article (just before I climbed up the bed… the next minute I began creeping on my keyboard, and begging Chai for an anniversary banner - which he made in his favourite game of Minecraft). Even better than that, AOSC OS’s ARM port finally saw its first mass debut in the format of SD card images - Icenowy… She’s a genius with all the mass building and mainline kernel adaptations - couldn’t have managed it without her.

But anyways. Bases (or *-base) is a new concept that I started to think about when building the last batch of AOSC OS AMD64 releases in September. When I started building a non-split (packages) system as the new AOSC OS, I did not anticipate how complex the dependency trees would have become. It’s practically impossible to build a system in one go without leaving some packages out - and time to rebuild the tarball again… another 30 minutes down the drain. Additionally, with the insane growth in amount of ports - now six, will be seven in just a month or so (MIPS64el) - it became increasingly difficult to keep track of things/features that needed to be introduced in order to create a production level system base (in the case of the two big endian PowerPC ports, I did not realize there are important utilities like ifconfig were left out until I tried to build a base tarball, and I suddenly realized how young - simple, and naive - the port was). Before I got carried out by these fond memories, *-base packages are essentially meta packages for multiple desktop environments - but additionally, packages describing functionalities in an AOSC OS distribution were also created:

  • network-base, network connection/diagnostic/security functionalities.
  • studio-base, audio/video studio/production functionalities.

Unlike the common…

  • gnome-base, a basic GNOME desktop installation.
  • kde-base, a basic KDE Plasma desktop installation.

When a new user comes to a new Linux distribution - or even to Linux - they usually wouldn’t know what to install to get certain things ready, or in better wording - “… so that I can $DO_FOO”. A classic example would be productivity functionality - in which case, LibreOffice as the gold standard of productivity suite on Linux (nix in general if you would admit) forms the center piece of this functionality, but usually one may want to be able to scan and print documents, and moreover, print and scan with appropriate capabilities like the driver themselves (Hewlett Packard and Canon alike) and enhanced functions like OCR (tesseract will do, but with language data included) - so our productivity-base has the following dependencies, well, roughly (because I already forgot):

  • productivity-base, productivity functionalities.
    • libreofice - LibreOffice productivity suite.
    • print-base - printing/spooling functionalities.
      • cups - Common UNIX Printing System.
      • hplip - Open source collection of Hewlett Packard printer/scanner drivers.
    • scan-base - scanning functionalities.
      • simple-scan - A GTK+ sanning utility (the only good choice so far).
      • tesseract - Tesseract OCR.

(Also note that productivity-base could depend on other *-base packages)

So, now if you install productivity-base, you can drop right in and start writing documents, scanning faxes, … You get the idea - I might sound old fashioned, but Google Drive simply wouldn’t cut sometimes…

Anyways, this is the basic principle of the *-base packages, or simply Bases: meta/collection packages providing certain capabilities and functionalities to AOSC OS, and moreover, to provide just enough of the functionalities for out-of-box experience (like, your printer will work after you installed print-base).

So why “Bases” the name?

Honestly, just to be regarded as a “catch-phrase” when someone would want to get such “special” packages out of the 4000+ in the repository.

There are problems however. Lion Yang complained that in the case of golang-base, most people would just go ahead and install go, as it is just a shorter package name, and the existence is just not “prominent” enough in the context of APT (our standard package manager frontend).

And unfortunately I could not think of a straightforward way to solve this issue - and *-base packages will serve better in distribution-building (say, when I build a KDE tarball, I would know which ones to install to create a system release with the least top-level dependencies… complex concept, if you don’t quite get what I’m saying here, IRC me - JeffBai) and porting (as mentioned above, so the developer would know what still needed to be built for a bare-minimum collection of packages for a port to be functional, or “behave like AOSC OS”) context.

Maybe patching APT will do a better job… I don’t know, not exactly available for those kind of tasks yet.

Speaking of things to-do in the coming moons, I am trying to set up some semi-breaks for myself - some week-long, or even two-week-long periods each season to free myself from day-to-day packaging - and build system release updates during those periods, usually taking 5 days or so, and the rest at my own disposal. Taking breaks is only for better working efficiency and mood in general… Not gonna lie. Before then, I would need to make a more concrete schedule for these semi-breaks.

… And I’ve finally got myself an Alienware Alpha R2 so that I could play Elite: Dangerous at near 60fps. Quite happy about the little machine so far, might post a brief review later.