PackageKit backend for Software Center: pencils down report

Software Center in openSUSE

Software Center with PackageKit backend in openSUSE Factory

Today the official coding period of GSoC 2011 ends. It’s been a four months journey, with challenges, failures and achievements, but nevertheless fun :-) .

You may be wondering what is the status of my project; here it goes: current version of Software Center can be tested in openSUSE Factory; it can populate its database with data from an AppStream XML; it shows application information (fetched from the package manager); it installs and removes software, in the same friendly manner the ubuntu does (showing progress, handling dependencies).

Moreover, my patches to gobject-introspection, PackageKit and obviously software-center, are all upstream and released; kudos to the project managers and the community for helping me get them there.

There are still parts that need work; some of then have been intentionally left with lower priority from my initial plan, in order to get a functional version up by the end of the program; others weren’t covered by the planed feature set. These are: performance (current version is rather slow on first load, and also on showing list, due to many resolve calls), transaction history (it can be implemented using the almighty PackageKit), reviews (currently these are fetched from ubuntu servers), screenshots (same as reviews). Software Center itself passes a period of active development and changes, once its fancy Gtk+3 interface stabilizes, more work can be done into polishing the <other-distro> experience.

Although I’m generally happy with the result of the project, since this is a report, I want to outline what differed from my expectations and slowed me down from bringing a full feature set cross-distro Software Center:

  • fast development – when I started hacking on software-center’s GUI, it was pygtk Gtk+2 based; a Gtk+3 branch existed, but was far from being usable; under the last few weeks, it was merged, and actively developed into a newly designed interface (which will become software-center 5.0);
  • Gio, GLib, GMenu, GObject, usually libs starting with a capital G, which introspection bindings are about to stabilize; having to get them from trunk, and dealing with API breakage;
  • waiting for the pygobject release; when it came, it broke my pygtk mixed work (since static vs GI are no longer permitted in the same program – which is the right choice. btw), and left me with no working GUI; luckily, I took the best advices on IRC, and also software-center devs fixed things along, so that the new UI isn’t affected by the underlying changes.

Something worth mentioning in this finale post is that OBS totally rocks.

Overall, I hope this effort won’t stop here, and with a bit of luck, it will be shipped by your favorite distribution :D

PS: for more implementation/testing/plan details, I have created this page on openSUSE wiki, please check it out.

4 Responses to “PackageKit backend for Software Center: pencils down report”

  1. mihai

    congrats alex

  2. kyriakos


  3. Mustafaa

    Congratulations, and thank you for this hard work.

  4. Michael Stephenson

    Could you add build instructions, I’m trying to test it on fedora.

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