May 24
I think the words “package manager” are of the very first things a new GNU/Linux user learns (and soon appreciates!) when he opens the door to the free software world..
The idea of having the ability to install most of the programs available in the free software market from a simple application is both an exciting and practical feature..

My initiation to package managing software was with Adept on Kubuntu 8.04 and I was very happy with it as a newbie..Being satisfied, I continued using it till two weeks ago, when a clean install of Kubuntu 9.04 introduced me to Kpackagekit..It comes preinstalled for the first time in Kubuntu with the current release (Jaunty), and it’s the system’s default package manager.

At the beginning I must admit that I really liked the simple interface and the way you select which packages-updates to install/remove blends with the whole KDE 4.2 philosophy..

However, after using Kpackagekit as my main package manager for a while, various problems started to occur, for which I haven’t found any solutions yet..

Currently my main problem is a bug that many users have reported to come across to..
I did a bit of searching around but I couldn’t find a solution to it..I read on a comment on Bugzilla that “the error “you need to fork” is a developer message to the backend authors”..I don’t understand exactly what this means, but I realize that it’s not something that a simple user can fix.. =)

According to the developer of KPackagekit the required packages to compile it are:
“PackageKit 0.4 (ATTENTION HERE!!)
- The package provided here does NOT contain libpackagekit-qt 0.4 – (It’s now included in PackageKit /lib sources)
PackageKit itself, so please first make it work on YOUR distro.
Qt >4.4 (Won’t compile with older versions)
KdeLibs of Kde4
Policykit-DBus
Policykit-KDE (YEAH now kde has one interface too :D)”

Am not sure if it’s required to have these packages installed on your system for Kpackagekit to work properly..I checked mine, and I seem to have everything installed..I noticed however that the version of my PackageKit is 0.3.14 whereas the developer talks about 0.4..I tried adding the PPA for PackageKit-Team in my repositories and updated but it had no impact..It seems that there is not a package around for PackageKit 0.4 yet..I wonder if this is the problem (?)..

Another annoying problem that I had was installing miscellaneous updates..I probably had conflicting packages installed but Kpackagekit gave me no information on that..It only crashed and showed error reports..I then remembered that I had read about this bug on the release announcement of Jaunty at Kubuntu.org: “KPackageKit (which is now the default package manager for Kubuntu Jaunty) doesn’t support installations which require a removal or updates which require additional software. The packages to be removed/installed will be shown as blocked. Bug 342671

So after all of this troubleshooting, I decided to go back to Adept and installed version 3.0beta4..To my big disappointment Adept reported broken packages (probably one of Kpackagekit’s crashes caused this)..In an effort to fix this I ended up switching to Synaptic 0.62.5..

Posting on forums regarding Ubuntu and Kubuntu for a year now, I had read about Synaptic more than often..After working with it for a day or two now, I must say that it seems much more capable and powerful for the user than the previous too..Maybe a bit more complicated but certainly more stable..

Overall, it is my opinion that Kpackagekit is a very worthy try that am sure will continue improving, but I don’t understand why Kubuntu and KDE rushed to make it the default package manager.. I can’t recommend using it as a main package manager on a system yet..

Finally, for those interested in something extra, here is an interview of the developers..

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9 Responses to “Kpackagekit – First Impressions and Troubleshoots”

  1. dajomu says:

    I really don’t like KpackageKit. There are too many clicks required. One “window” to update, another to install programs, another to…. Why not keep it all in one view like Adept? It is a crappy GUI.

  2. pvandewyngaerde says:

    there is always dpkg and apt-get to fix things

  3. Srikar says:

    Awesome Blog :) .Keep it up.

  4. Rambo Tribble says:

    Personally, I feel KpackageKit is alpha software at this stage and should not have been incorporated into the Jaunty release.

    This may well be a symptom of a larger issue, the question of how to produce a complete desktop distribution in under 700 MB.

  5. Roland says:

    As a continuing user of Kubuntu 3.5.10, I think Canonical is doing a real disservice to linux by releasing software of beta quality every six months. They should label it beta, and warn ordinary users to stick with LTS releases. I will probably accept KDE4 with the Kubuntu 10.4 release (will that be LTS?), but till then, forget it!

  6. tetris4 says:

    @dajomu
    I didn’t mind the GUI that much but I was very annoyed by the fact that it didn’t do the job that it’s supposed to do!

    @Rambo Tribble
    I did get that “alpha” feeling too..Regarding the 700mb issue, am sure Adept could be kept with no problem..

    @Roland
    Sometimes I really enjoy testing out new software, however I definitely agree that early versions shouldn’t be included in official releases..They can create a lot of troubles and negative feelings, especially to new users that don’t know how to work around them..

    @pvandewyngaerde
    Thank g0d we will always have the terminal!

    @Srikar and all
    thnx for the comments and the g00d w0rds.. =)

  7. dantti says:

    Hi, it’s nice to hear that at the first look you liked it.
    Well, just to clarify once more what happens here,
    first i must say i’m a Debian user, which also makes me
    affected by these problems you listed. There are basically
    3 problems:
    1st – debian based distros have debconf which the current
    backend does not have a propper “workaround’ to PackageKit policies,
    I have an idea to fix this but no time yet.
    2nd – conffiles (those conflicts when updating configurations files), this
    is not supported too by apt backend, i also know how to fix.
    3rd – PackageKit does not support yet propperly showing what will
    happen when you install/remove package, it works pretty well for
    rpm based distros.

    So all these issues I actually know how to fix, but I need time,
    I am developing a new backend (in cpp – called aptcc) which only lacks
    install/remove/update.
    The point is Kubuntu / Ubunto imo should stop tagging experimental software
    as stable. That’s why Debian has a huge release cicle so things can be
    propely tested, packagekit does pretty well the job in fedora, but
    it’s not ready yet for debian based distros.
    And i really hope when it gets ready people still want to try :/

    Best,
    Daniel.

  8. tetris4 says:

    Well, when posting this one I can assure you I never expected to get a response from one of the developers!!

    Am happy to see that you have the problems already in mind, and that you are working on them.

    As for your opinion: “The point is Kubuntu / Ubunto imo should stop tagging experimental software as stable” I couldn’t agree more. As I mentioned in the post, this only gets users into troubles.
    In addition, it definitely does no good to the program itself, since it gives it some very negative publicity. And I understand that for this in many cases the developers of the software are not to blame, but those that chose to introduce it at a time that it wasn’t ready.

    Rest assured that I will be among those that will try Kpackagekit when it’s ready. I know time is always a problem, but am sure a stable release will worth waiting for..

    Thnx for the time you spent to inform us and for the inside info! ;-)

  9. peterbuldge says:

    I’m fine with aptitude

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