[erlang-questions] Turning rebar into a package manager

Fred Hebert <>
Fri Oct 19 14:33:12 CEST 2012


For anyone interested, there's been an interesting blog post on the 
topic of package managers written at 
http://hyperthunk.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/does-erlangotp-need-a-new-package-management-solution/

They mention a few very interesting issues that are likely to be brought 
up again here, and I would recommend reading it as a nice entry point to 
the discussion of what problems common solutions have, and what could 
possibly be done to fix it.

On 12-10-19 6:36 AM, Joe Armstrong wrote:
> Here is a programming exercise ...
>
> I think we can turn rebar into a package manager with 4 simple and one not so
> simple tweaks.
>
> This would turn rebar from being something that is very useful to something
> that is very very useful :-)
>
>
> (aside - I'm revising my Erlang book, and I'd like to describe
> how package management works, but there is no package manager
> which is a shame - so I got to thinking about package managers
> and wondered why still don't have a decent package manager.	
>
> The one I've seen that I like a lot is npm (node package manager)
> so we could do worse than follow their design)
>
> So this is how I think rebar could become a package manager
>
>
> Tweak 1
> =======
>
>     > rebar get-deps
>
> Fetches the dependencies in rebar.conf and stores them in
> the current directory, in a directory called deps.
>
> After a while you get dependencies scattered all over the place,
> I've seen many examples of this.
>
> This means that there is no central place to go and look if you
> want to find code.
>
> NPM sticks ALL dependencies under ${HOME}/.npm
>
> Suggestion:
>
>     All dependencies should be stored in ${HOME}/.erl_packages
>
>     (Aside - if we followed npm the directory structure would be
>      something like)
>
>     ${HOME}/.erl_packages/cowboy/6.2.1/src
>                                                                 /ebin
>                                                       /5.2.3
>                          /stdlib/12.3.1
>                                 /14.6.8
>
>     etc. ie a package/Vsn/src ... structure
>
>
> Tweak 2
> =======
>
>     move rebar.config to ${HOME}/.erl_packages/rebar.config
>     and add commands to automatically edit it
>
>     > rebar add_package foo
>
>     might add a line like
>     {foo, ".*", "git://...."}
>
>     to rebar.config
>
>     The point here is to change the content of rebar.config with
>     shell commands rather that editing it by hand
>
> Tweak 3
> =======
>     fix rebar so it just downloads a particular version of a
>     program and not all the .git stuff - most people will only
>     want to use other peoples code, not hack it.
>
> Tweak 4
> =======
>
> Fix the erlang load paths to find all the dependencies
>
> I do this now. Put all my dependencies in
> ${HOME}/nobackup/erlang_imports/deps and put the following
> code in my .erlang startup file
>
>    Home = os:getenv("HOME").
>    Dir = Home ++ "/nobackup/erlang_imports/deps",
>    case file:list_dir(Dir) of
>       {ok, L} ->
>           lists:foreach(fun(I) ->
> 			       Path = Dir ++ "/" ++ I ++ "/ebin",
> 			       code:add_path(Path)
> 		       end, L);
>      _ ->
> 	void
>    end.
>
> Tweak 5
> =======
>     This can't be done by rebar
>     Make an index of all erlang apps on github that follow
>     the erlang packaging structure
>
>     Somebody has to write a program to do this.
>
>     The package index should be at a well know URL
>
>     > rebar get_index
>
>
>     This should fetch the  index from the well-know URL and store in
>     ${HOME}/.erl_packages
>
>
>     > rebar search XXX
>
>     would search the fetched index	
>
>     > rebar add XXXX
>
>     would take the index entry add it to the config fill fetch the code
>     and compile it
>
> Note the following:
>
> 1) The trust model.
>
>     We trust the supplier of a program not the program.
>
>     So for example on github we might trust programs
>     published by the user joearms (me) or erlang (the OTP release)
>     but not by some_guy_ive_never_hear_of
>
>     It would be quite easy to add a trust section to rebar.config
>
>     {trust, ["git://joearms", git://erlang", ...]}
>
> 2) There is no "publish" step
>
>     We put our code on github (or somewhere) and hope that it gets indexed
>     by the indexer.
>
>     We might mail the indexer if it is published in an obscure place.
>
>    Comments?
>
>     Cheers
>
> /Joe
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