[PC-BSD Dev] New Technology for PBI

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.org
Tue Jul 29 14:02:37 PDT 2014

On 07/29/2014 04:02, Ryan Bramantya wrote:
> Hi PC-BSD developers,
> The current PBI implementation is good for compatibility and ease to
> maintain. But the drawback for this implementation is the PBI is less
> portable, because it is more resemble to package manager than installer.
> When browsing through internet, I found this website
> http://portablelinuxapps.org/. The content of this website is very
> interesting as the author is trying to make portable version of Linux
> applications. Something rare in Linux or Unix world. These
> applications can run in almost popular Linux distributions. The
> technology behind this is called AppImageKit
> <http://github.com/probonopd/appimagekit>.
> If Linux which has different base system can run this portable
> application, I cannot see this not to be implemented in PC-BSD as
> well, as the new PBI technology. The advantage of this technology is
> the generated portable application has smaller size and better
> compatibiliy than old PBI (it seems).
> -- 
> Best regards,
> Ryan Bram
> -------------------------------
> http://rumahpintar.org
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> Dev at lists.pcbsd.org
> http://lists.pcbsd.org/mailman/listinfo/dev


I took a look at the AppImageKit stuff this morning. It looks very
similar to what we did with the previous PBI format. While I have a soft
place in my heart for that, I think AppImageKit is going to run into the
exact same issues that we did. Their format in some ways will have more
compat issues, since it looks like it checks what libs / files are
included with the distro, and doesn't include those in their bundle,
making it very non-portable when moving apps to another distro which may
have a completely different set of packages installed. Plus they are
doing all the same kludges to try and do binary relocation, compiling
with relative path names, etc. These are going to continue to be very
difficult problems to work-around.

I also noted that the number of applications they had available was very
small compared to the package world and I'm not sure if that's something
they can ever get past. Plus the README for their packages seems to
indicate that they only run on some specific distro / versions, such as
CentOS 7 / RHEL7 and maybe Fedora.. This seems to backup what I'm
suspecting, that the format isn't as self-contained / portable as we had
tried to make PBIs be, which is why their package size is much smaller.

Thanks for pointing them out though! If somebody manages to crack this
puzzle I would be interested for sure, but I suspect that it isn't
possible due to the way most FOSS applications are developed and
implemented at this time.

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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