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Automatic Software Updates on Linux

One of the lovely things about most Linux distributions is a central package management system. It allows you to update most of your software with a few clicks as well as install/remove just as easily. Yet something has been bothering my mind as I develop a new application, and is placing a question mark on mind.

Some applications need to be updated to their latest version in order to be used. Some popular examples are World of Warcraft or any other on-line game. In my case is something different but with the same concepts, an ASP.Net application. In order to simplify the install, RPM and Deb packages shall be created, but as many of you know there is no possible way to create packages to each and every distribution. I guess that in those cases the user will need to install a tar.gz package with a few instructions and from there auto-updates should be pretty easy as there is nothing system-wide to update.

But in the case of supported packages, updating can be tricky. The user can have custom repositories, alternative packages for the dependencies or the new update could require some new dependency that should be handled by the distribution itself. In any of those cases, there is a need to ensure the system package manager gets updated because some software can have dependencies on it, or simply to avoid double-updates.

As far as I know there is no way to do this sort of update in a distribution-abstract way, specially from Mono, but I would love to have this sort of library available or some sort of solution. As I work on the Windows side of the problem I think I’ll need to do some sort of planning on how this can be done on Linux, any ideas are welcome :)

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4 Responses to “Automatic Software Updates on Linux”

  1. knocte says:

    >as many of you know there is no
    possible way to create
    >packages to each and every distribution

    And what about OpenSUSE BuildService software?

    >As far as I know there is no way to do this sort of
    update
    >in a distribution-abstract way

    There’s an API in the planning phase:
    http://enterprise.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/01/10/2045258&tid=23&tid=47

  2. Jason says:

    Closet thing i can think of is klik.. or maybe zero
    package

  3. Chris says:

    Zeroinstall is distro
    independent.

    See http://0install.net

    I don’t know whether something like mono is supported but contact him, he is very helpful.

    Mono support for zeroinstall could be very cool
    since f-spot, monodevelop and banshee could be easily updated without updating the whole distro.

  4. cnull says:

    Maybe Click’n’Run. This should work on
    every Distribution. No dependency problems.
    I think they will start this thing in a few weeks.
    Could be interesting to use it for some applications.

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