As a senior in the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering I’m exploring the relationship between upstream and downstream package releases. I’m primarily interested in the time it takes for a distribution to do a version bump. Currently, I’m collecting data for Debian, Slackware, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSuse, Arch, Sabayon and Funtoo. I track each repository and the release date of each version of all packages. At this point in time the data is not public but by OSCON I would like to provide it all online for free. Hopefully, this data will increase the efficiency of distribution/repository maintenance.
In the presentation I’d like to present three main ideas. First, I’d like to discuss some of the difficulties in collecting and normalizing the data. The largest issue is the potentially different names of a single package across the different distributions. For example, Gentoo has php but Ubuntu has php3, php4 and php5. In order, to compare the two these must be considered equal. This is not an easy task with 65,000 or so different package names.
The second and third things I’d like to cover in my presentation are interesting trends and possible release cycle improvements. What this exactly entails is still uncertain. Much of the work on the data has yet to be done and by OSCON six months more data will have accumulated. I hope to present trends related to specific types of packages such as Office or Gnome apps. I also hope to touch on security updates and their proliferation into the different distributions. However, ultimately, this will be sorted out much closer to the presentation.
Scott is a June 2009 graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Computer Engineering.
He has created a number of unheard of open source projects such as Denu, Keystroke and Annoamp.
Most notably, he reverse engineered Apple’s multitouch in his program touchd which laid the ground work for the BCM5974 kernel driver.
Over the last three years he has interned at Creative Commons and Google. Soon he will become a full-time Googler.
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