[Mono-list] Re: Mono 0.25 and MonoDoc 0.5 released.

David Jeske jeske@chat.net
Mon, 30 Jun 2003 00:40:20 -0700

On Sat, Jun 28, 2003 at 11:23:35PM -0400, Miguel de Icaza wrote:
> This is the very same wish I have.

Miguel -

I have always hoped that either Gnome or KDE would adopt a system like
Nextstep/MacOSX app-wrappers. This would solve application
installation at least for GUI apps, because then all graphical
applications would have "xcopy" installation semantics just like .NET
apps. This worked so well in the Nextstep world that they started
adopting this scheme for non-GUI apps. All of MacOS X is now based on
this scheme. Nothing sold the scheme to me as much as the old
"X.app". It was an X11 server port that you could literally copy onto
a machine, double click, and go. Compared to installing X on any other
UNIX, this was amazing.

If you don't know the nitty gritty details of the Nextstep system, you
should dig in and take a look. There is alot to learn from it. I have
an unfinished proposal for what I call "OpenBundles" here that you can
look at:


The key point is to cut the installer out of the equation for making
the application actually work. Applications are stored in ".app"
directories with app-info.xml description files. The filemanager would
search and passively discover applications to launch. Applications are
required to be relocatable, and passively export mimetypes and
icons. Gnome and KDE like desktop systems can pull icons, mimetypes,
and other exported information out of the app-wrapper itself, instead
of requiring these items to be "grafted" into the /usr/gnome or
/usr/kde trees.

In this model, if debian or redhat wants to put the app-wrapper inside
a package, they can, but it's not necessary. Furthermore, the wrapper
is the same for all systems, because there are no hard-coded install
locations, or system specific install procedures.

> It seems to me that Linux still needs to mature on this area.  Today
> most distrbution players focus on delivering the best value for their
> users, but they are all competing for market share, there is little
> incentive to standarize on a core distribution.

I don't expect Linux will ever standardize on a core distribution. The
thing I like so much about the Nextstep wrapper scheme is that it
created a world of "GUI app encapsulation and xcopy installation" on
top of whatever UNIX you ran underneath. They ran the portable
"Openstep" on Soliaris and Windows as well, and the app copy scheme
was exactly the same. It was the same, because it was more of a
'non-installation' scheme. Underneath it all, old-school command-line
apps were installed using whatever tools were standard on the
platform, but most GUI apps did not depend on them.

If Gnome moved to bundling apps this way, I could distribute a
".tar.gz" of my app binary that would "just work" (much better than
today anyhow) on any Gnome system, as long as Gnome always included
backward compatible versions of libraries when it was installed.

David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + jeske@chat.net