Free desktop application distribution and installation

Thomas Kluyver thomas at
Tue Dec 9 17:22:00 PST 2014

Hi Matthias,

On 8 December 2014 at 19:01, Matthias Klumpp <matthias at> wrote:

> his means without installation those tarballs are of no value to the
> user, OR they contain a lot of bundled dependencies, which defeats
> your point of pulling stuff from the distribution repositories.

My intention is that without the installer tool, the experience is the same
as using tarballs currently is: some dependencies are bundled, and the user
is instructed to install manually. E.g. system requirements for Pycharm
list "Oracle JRE 1.6+ or OpenJDK 1.7+; Python 2.4 or higher, Jython, PyPy
or IronPython". I'm imagining here that applications will prefer to bundle
the majority of the libraries they're using to avoid APIs changing
underneath them, and only have a couple of big dependencies like language
runtimes or GUI toolkits.

But it could go one better: the tarball could ship with a minimal version
of the installer tool included, so the user unpacks it and runs ./install,
and it reads the metadata and uses the package manager to install the local
dependencies. There may not seem much benefit to the user in actually
getting the full installer, then, but it still offers some convenience
(handles downloading and unpacking for you) and some security (when you're
prompted for root access to install dependencies, you only need to trust
the installer, not the package you're installing).

> Oho, you would be suprised! It is actually *very* hard and a complex
> task to perform for an upstream project author. It also limits a
> software to a set of distributions.

Can you expand on why this is so complex? I'm thinking of something like


Is this something that's complex primarily for compiled languages because
of ABI changes? I'm used to dynamic languages, so I don't have a good feel
for ABI incompatibility, though I know what it means. Is the complexity to
do with working out what distro you're actually in? Or something else?

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