In my not-so-important opinion, one of the shining stars of Linux is Arch Linux, and one of the crowning points of Arch Linux is the AUR, which is so delightfully simple and and the same time terrifyingly powerful, that I am at times amazed that it isn’t a fixture in every distro, across the board.
After you use it you can’t help but marvel at the obvious common-sense of it — a collection of scripts and instructions for building up-to-date software that the Arch developers don’t maintain, with the more popular packages “ascending” to a precompiled state, as part of a community repository.
But probably the coolest part is the easy interaction between the users who maintain AUR titles, and the people who make use of their efforts. As an example, today I noticed that the home page for Xpad, which I consider a must-have application, announced version 3.1 a few days ago.
It’s not exactly the most sought-after program, so I could understand when the AUR page for Xpad still showed 3.0 as the most recent version. Rather than manually editing the posted PKGBUILD for it (which I could always do), I logged in, clicked once to flag the package as out-of-date, and eight hours later Xpad was among the software updates for my system.
Of course, it’s not always so clean and easy, but that’s a good example of how the people who use Arch work together to keep each other apprised of updates and improvements — and problems, of course.
I occasionally go a little overboard in my appreciation for simple things like this — I mean, after all, it’s just a web interface for a database of text files, with a few convenient buttons here and there to make the task of nudging the maintainer a little easier. There are plenty of script-driven, source-centric distros out there. So if I’m overdoing it, let me know.
But I haven’t run into a distro yet that makes it this easy to build something from scratch (more-or-less reliably), and take on software from the community, and facilitate user management of that software, and offer the chance for titles to become part of the precompiled repositories. If someone has made this even simpler or easier, I haven’t heard about it. But I’d be happy to try it, and see if it stands up to Arch.