Distributions page update

Joachim Steiger roh at openmoko.org
Tue Aug 5 03:21:30 CEST 2008

Ferenc Veres wrote:
> Hi,

> Your updates are cool, thanks! Keep up, at least you know these. :-)


> One note: you added the new term "release target" to all titles. I am
> not sure it's good to confuse the users with three terms for basically
> the same:
> Distribution
> Software stack
> Release target (this is a subset, I know)

thats not correct.

a distribution is something like 'ubuntu'
a software stack is something like 'gnome libraries'
a release target is something like 'ubuntu hardy i386'

so you see, its 'different things' which means it has different scopes,
different definitions of things.

software stack defines a assembly of libraries, often crafted to 'fit
to code against 'gnome libs' doesn't mean it has a certain skin or
version, it means a certain style of api.

a distribution is a 'concept and mental origin of doing a software
packaging process', often, but not necessary accompanied by some
commercial entity which drives the effort/pays the bills.

a release target it a specific version and build(-series) of a
distribution for a specific device target with a somehow
selected/crafted supported/installed set of libraries/default software
stacks(set of libs).

thus only within a specific release target one can exchange binary built
packages and be 'somehow' sure (given correct config) the tool can run
and be used.

in our case it boils down to:

openmoko is a) a company b) a distribution c) a brand d) a line of products
openmoko 2007.11 is a release target
openmoko 2008.8 is a release target
asu is a codename for 2008.8 before it is 'completed'
fso is a 'software stack' and also a 'experimental target' but for now
not a _release_ target, where a featureset is fixed as part of the 'design'.

what people install on their devices are always specific binary builds
which can only share feeds with compatible  (abi AND api compatible) ones.

> You explained it in the intro, that they are based on the same source
> code with "different makefiles", that could be enough. Any opinions?

not only makefiles. its different branches in the source-control
mechanisms we use.
so depending on what is getting developed there it has different focusses.
fso is focussed on the middleware development, and not necessarily on
classic distro-work.
its just a container to ease development.

asu which will be om2008.8 is focussed on a already decided default
feature and application subset and getting a certain functionality done
and bugfixed. thats partially 'application work' as well as 'distro work'.

but since different release targets have not neccessarily the same set
of patches applied, and not exactly the same version if libs installed,
it does not mean that stuff compiled with the versions of libs of 2007.2
will be running on asu without recompile (will mostly work, due to libs
only changing their abi when neccessary)
in the end its the same problem like when one tries to use a binary
built of a package compiled on ubuntu gutsy on a ubuntu hardy. will
work, most of the times, as long as no used libs changed the api.
(simple daemons)
but it can also means severe breakage for that package when for example
depending on a much newer api than the release of a os provides.

> Introducing the new term requires duplicate references too, like your
> chagne in the title reflects:
> "4 Features by distribution/release target"
> (longer titles are harder to "scan for" too)
> We could still call those as Distributions, and then just mention in
> their own page (and in the intro text, as you did).
> Newbies won't be looking for release targets to install on their phone.

of course. still i think its necessary to finally explain what
differences there are and how far the compatibility of mixing feeds and
packages goes (and why it can break)

> Regards,
> Ferenc


Joachim Steiger
Openmoko Central Services

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