Saturday, September 11, 2004

Choosing Debian packages

I found this great article from the UserLinux discussion group that discussed how UserLinux wanted to solve one of the basic problems with Debian: there are almost too many packages to choose from. Now this is one of the main reasons why I love Debian but it has also been a problem in the past for me. As the article states when looking for a ftpd solution there are many choices, how do you make the correct choice without too much research.

I suggested that Debian could try to incorporate the statistics from the popularity-contest package and create a type of Google PageRank (tm) of packages. When you use aptitude or 'apt-cache search ftp' you could see that package foo has a popularity of 80% of all packages with ftp in the title. It could also show that this package got 800 votes. This type of information can tell a Debian user that there is probably stong development of the package currently and in the future. Of course the Debian user will still have the option of going for a less popular package but it would assist in the decision making process.

To know what percentage of the Debian market package foo uses, one would have to seperate the Debian packages into the appropriate market. However, you could use the same search term used in 'apt-cache search ftp' to focus on the packages with ftp in the title. You can take the 800 votes for foo divided by the total number of votes for packages with ftp in the title.

Now to figure out a way to tell the Debian Developers for apt-cache.