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Your rPath to Conary

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Development Release: rPath Linux 0.51 (Alpha) was announced by DistroWatch yesterday, and I was a bit curious. After my first glance, I was a bit taken aback. rPath doesn't seem to be targetting desktop users. Although it ships with KDE and Gnome, they aren't the most up-to-date versions, nor are they dressed up or enhanced in any manner distinguishable. In my humble opinion, I think rPath is probably a developer's platform, ...a conary developer's platform.

Information about rPath, as well as its ancestor Specifix, is fairly sketchy. The rPath website is a page listing a job opening and a link to the conary wiki, however DistroWatch states "rPath is a distribution based around the new Conary package management, created by ex-Red Hat engineers, to both showcase the abilities Conary provides and to provide a starting point for customisation." The conary wiki is pretty thin itself, although I was able to gleen a little information from it.

It was no big surprise to see (a modified) Anacoda as the installer and (as usual) I found it fairly straight forward and easy to complete. It asks some basic configuration questions such as network setup, firewall choice, and bootloader conf. I must say I loved the package selection portion. One is give one choice: everything. Could it be any easier? It takes a little while to install and once it's complete, it reboots without setting up other hardware or user accounts. Upon reboot it starts X as root, but to complete some other basic configurations in a graphical environment using rPaths Setup Agent. Included configurations include the date and timezone, monitor and resolution, and of course user account(s). Upon Finish, it restarts X and presents gdm for login. KDE and gnome are about your only choices for a desktop environment/window manager. rPath includes KDE-3.4.1 and Gnome-2.10.2. The Xserver version is xorg-6.8.2, gcc is 3.3.3, and the kernel is The kernel-source isn't installed from the iso, but one can install it with conary.


Conary is rPath's package management system. As it appears conary is the focus of rPath, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure it out. I began my quest quite lost and confused and ended it a little less lost and confused. According to the site, "Conary is a distributed software management system for Linux distributions. It replaces traditional package management solutions (such as RPM and dpkg) with one designed to enable loose collaboration across the Internet." Simply put, it's the package manager. It appears to be able to obtain packages from different repositories, utilizing binaries if available or sources if necessary and storing all versionings in a database in order to track changes from source branch all the way back to local versions installed on a given system to meet dependencies without conflicts.

According to the wiki, after the installation of rPath 0.51 the first thing one should do is update conary to version 0.62.2. Termed Conversion, the instructions stated to issue the following commands:

$su -
# conary update conary
# conary q conary
$ su
# sed -i 's/lockTroves/pinTroves/g' /etc/conaryrc

They continue with instructions in case an AssertionError is encountered. I didn't experience such an error and proceded with reading the wiki, --help, and man pages.

Conary at the commandline appears very apt-like. In fact the conary-gui is identical in appearance to synaptic. The gui front-end didn't seem to function very well here, but the commandline version seems to work as intended. Also included is the utility "yuck" which is a wrapper script to call conary --upgradeall.


Fortunately running conary is much easier than trying to understand what it is or how it works. Some simple commands include: conary q <packagename> reveals if the given packagename is installed, whereas conary rq <packagename> lists the newest available upgrade. conary update <packagename> installs or updates requested packagename, and conary erase <packagename> uninstalls. There are many many interesting options to play with in using conary beyond those basics, but most seem to geared toward package builders. Some of these include emerge, which builds the "recipe"; commit, which stores the changes; and showcs, which shows the difference. It really looks sophisticated and yes, I admit, a little complicated at the more in-depth level.

So, to install the kernel-source, one simply types: conary update kernel-source

The developers might be onto a superior package management system, but is it catching on? We know rPath obviously uses it and I understand Foresight Linux to utilize this package management system. As for rPath, it was a stable functional development environment. It seems it isn't trying to be the latest or greatest nor the prettiest. If you are interested in developing for conary or wish to use a system utilizing that package management system, then rPath might be the distro for you. The full package list as tested is HERE.



I'm pretty hazy on this too, so I might be completely off, but here is how I understand this:

While to a casual user Conary looks pretty much like apt-get or synaptic, it does do something more advanced under the hood. It is intended to make it easy to put together a system using a number of separate and *independent* repositories, each making its own changes and mini-releases. Conary tracks not only what you installed on your system, but also where it came from. This extends to any dependencies it uses, and it becomes quite a powerful concept.
For example, Foresight which also uses Conary is actually created largely from packages pulled directly from rPath repos; I would say as much as 75% of packages are not modified at all. If you install Foresight and later run updates on it, you'll see number of packages are updated from rPath repos. Any packages Foresight guys developed themselves come from their own repositories, naturally. But any packages that do exist in rPath but were modified in Foresight are overlayed over the 'standard' versions, with Conary keeping track of what comes from where, and what depends on what (in that context). This is pretty cool for Foresight guys, who can make their own distro while at the same time take a lot from the base, rPath.

Think of it this way: if you used Fedora, you probably tried at some stage to add various third-party repos to your yum config: Livna, Freshrpms etc... and quite possibly you discovered in the process some of them can conflict with others... it can become a mess. Well, this is exactly the situation Conary adresses.

... but again, I could be completely wrong.

re: Conary

That's pretty much the way I understand it as well, in that conary can keep track of any and all changes to the branches of a given source from the main branch all the way to minor revisions on public mirrors as well as on your local machine (which is especially good for developers). An end user can choose to install any version listed or just go with the latest. Like other package managers, all depends on the repositories set up tho. Good explanation! Thanks for your contribution. That's wonderful.


You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?


You are correct that rPath is developmnent release for the extensive testing of the Conary system, fPath is from Specifix who is the creator of Conary. Other distros like Foresight have taken and used it for their own needs. I find the Conary system interesting and quite functional, but have not made a decision about it's need and potential in the comunity.

My 2cents,

re: Conary

I think it's a wonderful concept as well, but I think it'd be rather complicated to set up and most developers are already set in their ways. And when you factor in how few distros use that method... I don't think it's something that will catch on right away.

You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

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A victory for free software over the "Microsoft tax"

This is a guest post by Marco Ciurcina, a lawyer who worked on this case.

The Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) issued a judgment1 that bans the "Microsoft tax," a commercial practice that discourages users from converting their PCs to GNU/Linux or other free operating systems by forcing them to pay for a Windows license with their PCs. PC producers in Italy now cannot refuse to refund the price of the license to purchasers that will not run Windows.

The ruling definitively concludes the case filed in 2005 against a hardware producer by Marco Pieraccioli,2 with the support of the Consumer Association ADUC,3 and affirms Marco Pieraccioli's right to a refund for the price of the Microsoft Windows license for the computer he purchased.

The primary reason to insist on using free software4 is because nonfree software deprives the user of freedom, including the freedom to participate in its development. The "Microsoft tax" has no effect on that issue.

The "free" in "free software" refers to freedom. It does not mean "gratis," and copies of free software do not have to be distributed without charge. Selling a copy of one free program or many of them is legitimate.5

However, most GNU/Linux distributions are offered to the public gratis, while Windows is not. Therefore, switching to GNU/Linux offers an opportunity for the secondary benefit of saving money -- a benefit that many Italians would value. The "Microsoft tax" has the effect of abolishing that secondary benefit. Now the secondary benefit must be available.

The ruling applies to more than just Windows. The Court states a general principle that applies to any device with software preinstalled: "...who buys a computer on which a given operational software (operating system) was preinstalled by the manufacturer has the right, if he does not agree to the conditions of the license of the software made available to him at first start of the computer, to retain the computer returning only the software covered by the license he did not accept, with refund of the part of the price that specifically relates to it."6

According to the Supreme Court, any commercial practice that prevents the user from getting a refund "..would clash in different ways with the rules that protect the freedom of choice of the consumer, and the freedom of competition among firms..."7

On the one hand, therefore, the judgment follows the path of the French Courts' case law, that on several occasions stated that the joint sale of hardware and software, without providing for the buyer the possibility to obtain refund of preinstalled software, violates the right of the consumer.8

On the other hand, the Italian Supreme Court states that the act of hindering the refund violates the freedom of competition among firms. This statement of principle is interesting considering that, to date, the antitrust authorities have done little against business practices that "force" the joint sale of hardware and proprietary software. Now they may consider taking stronger action.

The focus of the Court's reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software.9 Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the "Microsoft tax."


1 Judgement n. 19161/2014 published 11/9/2014
2 I had the honor to assist before the Supreme Court Marco Pieraccioli who already had favorable decisions both at first instance (judgment no. 5384/2007 of the Giudice di Pace di Firenze) and in second degree (judgment no. 2526/2010 of the Tribunale di Firenze).
3 See
4 See
5 See
6 See p. 22 of the judgment.
7 See p. 21 of the judgment.
8 See
9 The judgment at p. 21 states: "Having been assessed that there are not technological obstacles, the 'packaging' at the source of hardware and operating system Microsoft Windows (as it would for any other operating system for a fee) would actually respond, in substance, to a trade policy aimed at the forceful spread of the latter in the hardware retail (at least in that, a large majority, headed by the most established OEM brands); among other things, with cascade effects in order to the imposition on the market of additional software applications whose dissemination among final customers finds strong stimulus and influence - if not genuine compulsion - in more or less intense constraints of compatibility and interoperability (that this time we could define 'technological with commercial effect') with that operating system, that has at least tendency to be monopolistic".

© Marco Ciurcina, 2014 – Some rights reserved This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or any later version. Read more

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 license (or later version)

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