Although Microsoft is beginning to acknowledge that the rich ecosystem of open source software can bring a lot of value to Windows users, the most popular open source software projects are largely developed on other platforms, which means that they aren't always easy to deploy on Windows. A relatively complex open source server stack can be rolled out on Linux with a few clicks, but it might take hours to get the same software installed and properly configured on Windows.
Microsoft developer Garrett Serack has identified a compelling solution to this problem. He is launching a new project to build a package management system for Windows with the aim of radically simplifying installation of popular open source software on Microsoft's platform. He calls it the Common Open Source Application Publishing Platform (CoApp).
Much like the package management systems that are a standard part of popular Linux distributions, the CoApp project will provide a delivery platform for packaged open source software libraries and applications, with support for dependency resolution and automatic updates. It could be a powerful tool for system administrators who want a WAMP stack or developers who want to port Linux applications to Windows.
Serack wants to use Microsoft's MSI format for the packages and intends to take advantage of WinSxS in order to deliver parallel binaries so that users will have access to multiple builds of the same library generated by different compilers. The project will also seek to establish some basic standards for filesystem layout so that files are put in consistent places.
He is coordinating the project with Microsoft's blessing, but the actual development effort will be community-driven—an approach that will hopefully enable CoApp to evolve in a way that best serves its users rather than being directed by Microsoft.
"The folks here at Microsoft have recognized the value in this project—and have kindly offered to let me work on it full-time. I'm running the project; Microsoft is supporting my efforts in this 100%," he wrote in a blog entry about the project on Wednesday. "The design is entirely the work of myself and the CoApp community, I don't have to vet it with anyone inside the company."
Source: ars technica