Some weeks ago I had a conversation on #opensuse-project (on irc.freenode.net)
about a new project started by me called "Pakanto" (http://pakanto.org) - a
new project dedicated for creating better package descriptions for today's
Linux/Unix package management systems (so it is not about inventing yet
another packaging system ;-). On IRC people liked he idea in principle but
also had some concerns mainly because they misunderstood the project
scope "oh yet another online wiki project" and were also a little bit sceptic
towards the software I am using: MediaWiki.
Thus I am writing to this list (please direct me to the right one if it is
not) in order to adress some usability problems of packaging and my proposed
The current state:
In case you search (for example in YaST) for functionality (e.g. "web
browser") not application names (e.g. "Konqueror") on your Linux distro of
choice software package descriptions are the foundation of modern package
management software (like Yum, YaST, urpmi, Adept, emerge...).
If the software package descriptions are poor quality the best search
algorithm can't do much. So if you search for functionality and not
application names there it is crucial to have localised (who knows that the
German "Textverarbeitung" is equivalent to "office" or "word processor") and
non-geeky package descriptions like funny geek texts in the quality of "Less
is More" or "Elinks is an improved version of Links". If you understand these
texts you don't need a description at all...
Current package description i18n systems (for example in Debian but I am sure
Suse has something like this too and I was told on IRC that there is some
kind of collaborative web interface for package descriptions in Suse) are
modeled like translation of UI strings of Linux software: The english text
is "the law" and cannot be changed (within the same tool and same procedures)
and the translations get derived from it. The problem is: If the english text
is crap the translation is wasted time. That's currently a problem with
package descriptions. English package descriptions arent that helpful for
average people and so translating them won't improve anything for end users.
That's why I came to the idea of the Pakanto wiki for writing these package
descriptions. A wiki gets used for parallel editing (the german version can
be written previous to the english one for example) and not strict
translation - you only aim at equivalency. And of course it is much more
easier and open (!) than a custom web translation interface and bugzilla...
So the Pakanto wiki will not be an online knowledge base like Wikipedia but a
platform for writing package descriptions that can be embedded for offline
usage in current software packages without changing the package management
software at all (but you could enhance the software as a result to the
improved posibilities provided by Pakanto).
Long story short here are some links how it works in detail (and what still
needs to be done ;-):
The project is work in progress as everything and so I'd be really interested
in some feedback about it. As well I'd be interested to know how the i18n of
package descriptions was done in YaST (as it is AFAIK not part of the regular
Cheers, Daniel Arnold / Arnomane
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