What to Expect (and Not Expect) from Linux Universal Packages
Traditionally, Linux has relied on two main package formats, .deb (Debian) and .rpm (Red Hat). Although structured differently, both .deb and .rpm packages consist of upstream software customized for a particular distribution, plus the scripts to install any dependencies — that is, required libraries, utilities, and other packages — not already installed on the system. This arrangement restricts the required hard drive space to a minimum, and both formats have served Linux well for almost two decades.
However, in recent years, these traditional formats have come under increasing criticism. “Linux users are increasingly expecting more of a consumer experience for application — much like the app experience on a smartphone, for example,” says Thibaut Rouffineau, Canonical’s head of Internet of Things marketing. Rouffineau criticizes the distributions that use .deb or .rpm for having “strict and complicated” requirements that slow the introduction of new versions and complicate the support of Linux by requiring a separate version of the package for almost every distribution.
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