Tracking Package Freshness



Come find out which distribution is best... at keeping their official repositories up to date. Or which distribution has the most up to date LAMP packages. This presentation explores trends culled from package releases since October '08, discusses the challenge of making sense of it all and possible improvements to distribution and package maintenance.


As a senior in the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering I’m exploring the relationship between upstream and downstream package releases. I’m primarily interested in the time it takes for a distribution to do a version bump. Currently, I’m collecting data for Debian, Slackware, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSuse, Arch, Sabayon and Funtoo. I track each repository and the release date of each version of all packages. The data will become available through Hopefully, this data will increase the efficiency of distribution/repository maintenance.

In the presentation I will present three main ideas. First, I’ll discuss some of the difficulties in collecting and normalizing the data. The largest issue is the potentially different names of a single package across the different distributions. For example, Gentoo has php but Ubuntu has php3, php4 and php5. In order, to compare the two these must be considered equal. This is not an easy task with 65,000 or so different package names.

The second and third things I will cover in my presentation are interesting trends and possible release cycle improvements. What this exactly entails is still uncertain. Much of the work on the data has yet to be done and by OSBridge three months more data will have accumulated. I hope to present trends related to specific types of packages such as Office or Gnome apps. I also hope to touch on security updates and their proliferation into the different distributions. However, ultimately, this will be sorted out much closer to the presentation.

Speaking experience


  • Scott Shawcroft

    University of Washington


    Scott Shawcroft is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering Department. In the last two summers he has interned at Creative Commons and Google. He is the author of a number of unknown open source projects including touchd, Denu, Annoamp, Keystroke and liblicense.