Batis - XDG-based packaging for Linux desktop apps

Thomas Kluyver thomas at
Fri Nov 20 12:54:51 PST 2015

On Fri, Nov 20, 2015, at 08:09 PM, Jasper St. Pierre wrote:
> I'm worried. We have xdg-app, we have batis, and I learned that the
> KDE people are working on their own thing as well.

I haven't heard about the KDE project in this space - is there any
website for that?

I have looked at xdg-app before, and it looks interesting, but it also
looks an order of magnitude more ambitious and complex than what I'm
doing. The homepage for it talks a lot about sandboxing technologies,
and something called OSTree, which is apparently "git for operating
system binaries". That's fine for keen Linux desktop developers like the
GNOME team, but I find it hard to imagine cross-platform application
developers, who may not even run Linux day to day, figuring it all out.
Batis is supposed to be a straightforward step up from distributing
plain tarballs.

Subuser ( is yet another approach to distributing

> Could whoever is working on these systems try to collaborate and agree
> on some common goals? The code between these systems might be
> different, but I think more interoperability and collaboration would
> be appreciated.

That's a worthy aim, but I think there are simply too many different
ideas and priorities out there. For instance, sandboxing applications is
clearly a primary concern for xdg-app, whereas it's explicitly something
I'm not trying to tackle.

> No container means no sandboxing. As far as I'm concerned, that makes
> it not be a realistic option for the future of the Linux desktop.

I'm aiming at the present of the Linux desktop, not the future. ;-)

In principle, sure, I'd love a sandbox. In practice, I download code and
run it without a sandbox practically every day, whether it's from PyPI,
from Ubuntu PPAs, or just downloading tarballs from application
websites. I don't think application developers are going to bother with
sandboxing technology until that is *the way* to distribute applications
on Linux, for all distributions and all desktops. And that's at least a
few years away.

Also, I'm not sure the Linux desktop has much of a future unless the
situation improves sooner. The number of Linux desktop users I know is
dwindling as they convert to Mac. Programming conferences, even where
open source software plays a big part, are now a sea of Macbooks. We
need bigger plans like sandboxing technology, but we also need something
to move the status quo forwards.

> Right now, Batis looks like "another package format" to me, nothing else.

It is another package format! But for all the applications out there
that just offer Linux users tarballs, they can use this to build their
package without losing any flexibility, and both developer and user gain
some convenience. And for the applications that rely on Linux distros
for packaging, maybe this makes it simple enough to package themselves,
so that users can get up to date versions.


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