[maemo-community] Command line apps & Extras

From: Dave Neary dneary at maemo.org
Date: Thu Nov 26 15:50:25 EET 2009

Valerio Valerio wrote:
> one of the topics of the last community meeting about Extras QA was if
> command line applications should be available for regular users through
> the application manager or not. We can't reach a consensus, and it seems
> to generate very contradictory opinions inside our community.

I agree users should have access to installing command line
applications. As others have pointed out, some command line applications
are user facing, some are daemons - so it's not quite as straightforward
as saying that all CLI applications are not destined for end users.

> Pro arguments:
> - Extras should be full of software. The user should know what they are
> getting.

I disagree with this in principle - it's not because Extras is brim full
with software that things will be easy to find, or that you can easily
see what software is popular & useful (and interesting to your technical
level). Try sitting an unsuspecting user in front of Synaptic with
Multiverse enabled on Ubuntu, and see how lost they get.

> - We want CLI apps to be available via H-A-M, so that the user sees
> updates, can restore them after reflash and so on.
> - As long as the description makes clear that this
> runs-in-background/in-X-Terminal/...
> - Suppose tomorrow a security hole is found in openssh, if it's not
> visible in h-a-m how will users know about it?

I agree with these - any packages you install should have updates
checked. And software for the command line should make that clear
somehow - perhaps with the logo/icon/screenshot?

> - Yes, if there's a appropriate category for these apps.
> - New user/cli (or, with a subsection-aware HAM, user/network/cli and
> user/desktop/cli) for them.

I disagree with these. It's already been pointed out that "CLI apps"
don't indicate a target audience or usage, any more than "GUI apps"
would. Seems like category pollution to me.

It would make more sense, IMHO, to have a magic flag that got turned on
when you install a terminal that allows you to see CLI apps in HAM.
After all, if you don't have a terminal installed, you don't use any CLI
apps, right?

> - The ones that will use CLI apps, have enough knowledge to install them
> via apt-get.

This argument certainly holds some water - and yet, installing software
via apt-get isn't something people learn at birth either.

Imagine you're a hobbyist, a Fedora user say, and you want to use mutt,
your favourite email client, on your N900. You start up the application
manager, look for mutt. Don't find it. Bummer. You start Terminal, and
do "yum install mutt". "yum: Command not found" - bummer.

Some graphical way to install CLI software seems reasonable to me. With
a magic button that has "Hide CLI apps" checked by default in the

> - CLI apps which need to be run from X Terminal should linger in
> -devel/-testing.

I have no problem with this one either. Or even a separate repository
just for CLI apps that you have to activate in HAM to see.


maemo.org docsmaster
Email: dneary at maemo.org
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