GNU Guix launches
Posted Nov 27, 2012 15:35 UTC (Tue) by lambda
In reply to: GNU Guix launches
Parent article: GNU Guix launches
If you don't allow people to install their own packages, they will just download, compile, and install them into their own directory (or run software written in scripting languages that don't require compilation), and now they have an outdated copy sitting in their home directory that's hard to update, and it's hard to find out that they're even doing this without looking.
Why is it so threatening for users to be able to run their own software? They will do it anyhow; providing a framework for them to do so, while sharing dependencies, having a central database that the administrator can audit and tell people when they need to upgrade because of security issues (or forcibly upgrade them if need be) seems a lot preferable to having random pieces of software in who knows what state scattered around in home directories.
Why is PHP so popular? It's certainly not its technical merits. One reason is that a user can just untar an application in their site directory and it will work; they don't have to ask a sysadmin to install it for them, request that their hosting provider install it and wait 3 months for it to actually happen, or the like. Nowadays environments like Rails are similar; there's a standard interface to the web server, and you can bundle all of your dependencies in with your application (other than the version of Ruby itself), so you can just stick a directory tree in an appropriate place on your server and it will just work.
People install their own packages all the time in this manner. Why should this be restricted to web apps written in dodgy languages like PHP (or somewhat less dodgy environments like Ruby on Rails)?
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