Using packages does not hurt

I have few different devices on my desk. Some has big community (BeagleBoards), some has forums with users (AT91SAM9263-EK), some have forums and irc channels (BUG) and I try to be present in most of them to help people, learn from mistakes etc.

The common problem which is shown there is “how to get XYZ working on my board”. People tries to use random toolchains without checking are they compatible with distribution running on board (usually it is CoreSourcery toolchain when board runs Ångström) to build software. Most of time they hang on irc to find some help about how to use configure, make, how to handle build time dependencies etc. Why they add themself so much trouble I have no idea…

Solution is mostly easier: provide some kind of network access for device and use package manager which came with root filesystem. For Ångström it will be “opkg” which is really easy to use. Basically user needs to know about few commands only:

  • opkg update to fetch repositories data
  • opkg upgrade to upgrade to newest available software
  • opkg list | grep NAME to check does NAME is available in repositories
  • opkg install NAME to install package (with dependencies)

For BUG commands are basically the same but “ipkg” is installed instead of “opkg”.

What it gives for users? More software available, less time spent on getting required applications and less problems. OK, not everything is available in repositories — but why not ask developers can it be provided?