August 2009 Archives

Do you run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, or Scientific Linux? Do you require FOSS software that's not included in your distribution? Then Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) just may be what you're looking for. EPEL is a SIG in Fedora, where various Fedora packages are rebuilt for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and it's various derivative distributions. Compatibility with those derivative distribution is an explicit goal, so if something doesn't work on a particular derived distribution such as CentOS, then by all means file a bug!

There are some rules as to what software there is, however. For instance, we won't replace any package that comes with the distribution. One of the complaints that we frequently get is that the world of RHEL is very old and outdated - EPEL will do nothing to assist there, we will simply add on to the existing distribution with what we can. If a package requires something newer than comes with the version of RHEL that we are targeting, then we cannot ship that piece of software. It's better to have less software than to break existing systems in new and exciting ways :).

With some exciting recent changes, Fedora contributors can now contribute to EPEL easier than ever before! Thanks to some new capabilities in koji, the Fedora buildsystem, we can now build EPEL packages right from within the familiar interface of koji. Updates are issued via bodhi, so again, the same workflow that you use for Fedora is now available for EPEL, rather than some arcane buildsystem called plague (working with it made you want to get rid of it like the plague!)

That's all well and good from the contributor side, what does this mean for users of EPEL? Simple - due to the new changes, hopefully more contributors will be interested in EPEL, and therefore the range of software available will grow wider and more varied.

If an enterprise is packaging free software for their internal use, why not share that work with others in order to avoid having them go through the same effort? Also, by compliance to the Fedora packaging guidelines, you're ensured high quality packaging of that software that you consume, rather than haphazard packaging by unknown people. Moreover, the burden of maintenance is shared with an entire community of people, rather than simply being confined to a single person in a single organization.