Packaging xfwm/ce4; WAS Re: How to create a package

Matthew Weier OPhinney matthew-lists at
Mon Jun 2 16:11:22 CEST 2003

-- Daniel Whitener <dwhitener at> wrote
(on Monday, 02 June 2003, 09:45 AM -0400):
> IMHO, one package would suffice.  You could do something similar to the way 
> apache2 is setup... with [default]--enable-module=xffm  or 
> --disable-module=xffm for those who don't need/want it.  I think having one 
> "./configure && make && make install"  would be great - plus it would 
> greatly simplify the install instructions and the current "order of 
> installation" that we have to go through.  And for folks like Matthew who 
> don't want to use xffm or xfdesktop, they could simply leave that out of 
> their .xinitrc.  

This isn't a bad option for those who compile their own binaries; I do
this with jpilot, for instance, so I don't need to add in modules I
don't use or even have installed on my Palm. A debian package already
exists, but there are certain features on CVS I require.


> I don't think a few extra binaries on the system will hurt 
> anybody - besides, today's OS installs are huge (almost 5 gig for full RH9) 
> - what's 4 extra unused binaries when you already have 1000 that you don't 
> know exist?  (Example:  hit <tab><tab> on the console of a redhat 9 box and 
> you get "Display all 4504 possibilities? (y or n)").

Right. I *DON'T* want that. That's why I use debian, and why I've used
slack in the past: so I *DON'T* have all those unused and unwanted
binaries on my system. I have often been faced with installing the
system on a 3GB HD, and still need some space on there for user
directories. I don't install a full distro *EVER*. That's why I chose
linux in the first place; so I can choose what software is on my system.

The beauty of the debian system is that you can easily link packages to
those on which they depend. Thus, packages like 'xfce4' and 'xfwm4'
could both *depend* on 'xfce4-common'; 'xfce4' might also _recommend_
'xfwm4', but not require it (though that would seem silly!). Doing an
'apt-get install xfwm4' would not only install the xfwm4 package, but
also xfce4-common. And I *still* am able to choose which package(s) I
wish to install. I wish RH and RPM-based distros were so easy (someone
correct me if I'm wrong; I don't understand URPMI, and I haven't used an
RPM-based distro in around two years).

Basically, what I'm getting at is that just because it's *easier* to do
it with one package doesn't mean that it's *better* to do so.

And I'm not against having single-package installs -- as long as
multi-package installs are also available. For instance, with the debian
example I outlined up there, I could also see a meta-package called
'xfce4-desktop' that would install xfwm4, xfce4, xfdestop4, etc. -- the
whole kit and kaboodle -- at once. (And, in the apt system, this would
mean that the user still has the option of removing any of the packages
they don't need without necessarily needing to reinstall the entire
desktop system.)

> My vote- one package - default install is everything with ./configure 
> options to disable certain things (xffm).

So, obviously, I vote differently! ;-)

> Great work by all of the developers - thanks for making an excellent 
> desktop!


> Matthew Weier OPhinney wrote:
> >-- Martti Kuparinen <martti.kuparinen at> wrote
> >(on Monday, 02 June 2003, 02:30 PM +0300):
> >
> >>I'm maintaining the XFce3 package in NetBSD and I recently started to 
> >>look at the new XFce4 stuff.
> >>
> >>Before I start creating the packages I'd like to know if you guys are 
> >>going to bundle everything into one piece before the official 4.0 
> >>release? In other words, can I perform a single configure/make in the 
> >>top-level directory (like in 3.8.18) or do I still have to perform 
> >>several configures/makes in module directories in certain order?
> >>
> >>What I like to have is a single package called xfce and that would 
> >>contain the complete system. However, right now I think I have to create 
> >>separate packages for each libxfce* modules...
> >
> >
> >There seems to be a lot of clammoring for a single xfce package with the
> >complete system. I'd like to weigh in for a different vantage point.
> >
> >Until recently, I was a blackbox user. I like blackbox. It has an
> >incredibly small footprint, nothing to clutter up the screen except what
> >you *choose* to put there, and it's clean. If you play around with it
> >enough, it can even be quite pretty.
> >
> >Add to blackbox ROX-Filer with a pinboard, and you've got a very nice
> >minimalist desktop, complete with icons. If you want, you can even add a
> >panel using ROX (I didn't, 'cause I feel it's too thick and you can't 
> >change the
> >default icon size for it easily), or add gkrellm for a bunch of
> >functionality that's easily themed.
> >
> >Why am I talking about blackbox on an xfce list? Because I started using
> >blackbox when I felt xfce3 was too big for my needs. I didn't *need* a
> >panel, I didn't *need* desktop icons. Sure, I could run xfwm3 without
> >the panel, but I still needed to have the panel installed to do this,
> >which meant that while xfwm3 didn't take much memory footprint, it still
> >took a bit of a storage footprint, more than it needed by itself.
> >
> >The beauty of having xfce4 split into different packages is that you
> >don't need to install the entire desktop. When I first started trying it
> >out six weeks ago, I installed *just* the stuff necessary to get xfwm4
> >running. I have since added the panel and taskbar to that configuration,
> >and I'm *very* satisfied. I still use ROX-Filer for my pinboard and
> >backdrop; I like that file manager, and I have a lot of utilities built
> >around its functionality at this point.
> >
> >So I *don't* have xffm, xfdesktop, or most of the extras installed. And
> >I like the fact that I have that *choice*.
> >
> >The only thing I would see changing in the packaging structure at this
> >point is (1) to group the libraries into a single package, and (2) to
> >put xfce4 and xfce-utils in a package together. 
> >
> >As to (1), since xfwm4 and xfce4 are dependent on libxfceutil,
> >libxfcegui, libxfcemcs, and xfce-mcs-manager, I'd suggest packaging this
> >as 'xfce4-base' or 'xfce4-common'; I would also suggest placing the
> >'xfce-mcs-plugins' in that package, as they're pretty basic to how
> >xfwm/ce4 work. My reasoning regarding (2) is that the description of
> >xfce-utils on the website even says that the panel expects them to be
> >installed. 
> >
> >This would simplify installation, while still retaining the element of
> >user choice. Choice is, of course, why we all use OSS, right? ;-)
> >
> >I hope that those making binaries for the various distros will also keep
> >this in mind as they package it all up; just because a person is using a
> >particular distribution does *not* mean that they necessarily want that
> >distro's maintainers to make their choices for them.
> >
> >Just my opinion, of course.

Matthew Weier O'Phinney
matthew at

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