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Automagic packaging of binary apps for Ubuntu

·1 min

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a tool to automagically package binary applications for Ubuntu. The idea is that anyone who wants to distribute a binary app on Ubuntu should be able to do so without having to learn how to package it.

I’ve used pkgme to build a proof-of-concept: which you can look at here: lp:~jml/+junk/pkgme-binary.

Or, you can watch the demo:

Right now, the tool assumes that the tarball:

  • is an application
  • contains ELF objects that can be scanned for symbols, which determine the dependencies
  • has one main executable file
  • that its contents can be copied into /opt/$PACKAGE/ and can be run from there by an ordinary user
  • comes with a JSON file specifying extra metadata

Our hope is that 90% of the binary applications we get will meet these requirements.

The plan is to take this proof-of-concept and turn it into something that will run server-side behind the Ubuntu Developer Portal. Next steps are to spec it out, create a project, start filing bugs and fix the bugs I already know about.

Watch this space for more updates.

Thanks to James Westby and Adam Conrad for their help in doing the proof-of-concept and to the dozen or so people who helped me get the darn screencast out.