Responsible Packaging

This section is TODO :)

Cliff notes:

  • "Package Management" is really a bunch of things and we need to acknowledge that and split these roles out:
    • Authoring packages;
    • Syncing package metadata, and making it possible to compute selections of packages;
    • Distributing the bulk data of packages;
    • and finally Installing packages (and note well, if you weren't able to separate this from selection, you dun goofed megabad).
    • Yes, there are some more peripheral bonus features we can define...
      • for example, keeping enumerations of what's been installed on a host
      • but let's not get distracted: these are bonuses. Even that example is stretching it: "has been installed" on a "host" doesn't even make sense in all situations, such as containers.
  • Okay! Now that we've got that split defined, we can identify sensible requirements for each role.
    • Authoring is a human story; we'll leave that aside for this discussion.
    • Publishing metadata is the job of catalogs. This is already well-spec'd in the Timeless Stack.
    • Performing selections is a somewhat freetext area in the Timeless Stack (though if your result is a Module, we certainly do ensure the selection-vs-usage separation).
    • Distributing the bulk data is explicitly out of band for the Timeless Stack -- and because we have the WareID hash contract, that's okay and easy to punt on without compromising other system design details.
    • Installing packages is what we want to talk more about.
  • Installing should be easy.
    • This requires rational design up-front.
    • Easy means stateless.
    • Easy means drag-n-drop.
    • Easy means no post-install hooks.

The rest of this document should discuss how we quantitatively measure "easy", then discuss how we make things that qualify.


  • relocatable binaries
  • static linking is an acceptable relocatability
  • ELF header relative links are too
  • the XORIGIN hack
  • PATH is still the monster in the shadows
  • sharing shared libraries with CA install paths
  • or not (and making as that transparent as possible)