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Launchpad eases Ubuntu app distribution

By Simon Aughton

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 11:57

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu Linux, has unveiled a new method for developers to build and publish packages of their code, documentation, artwork, themes and other contributions to Ubuntu.

Personal Package Archive (PPA) is a new component of Canonical's Launchpad hosting service for public software development. PPAs enable developers to publish ready-to-install packages of their software directly to users and include the ability to build and publish packages for x86 and AMD64 systems.

It also supports the Low-Power Intel Architecture (LPIA), a new chip architecture that is compatible with traditional x86 software but optimised for battery-powered devices. LPIA is the primary target platform for the future Ubuntu Mobile Edition.

Developers can use PPAs to publish their own versions of popular free software, or to create packages for software they produce. Individuals and teams can each have a PPA, allowing for collaboration on sets of packages.

Canonical provides each free user with up to 1GB of free Personal Package Archive space, which works as a standard Ubuntu software package repository and users can make a single configuration change to their systems to enable them to install packages.

"Many developers want to modify existing packages, or create new packages of their software," says Christian Reis, head of Launchpad application development. "The PPA service allows anyone to publish a package without having to ask permission or join the Ubuntu project as a developer. This removes a significant barrier to contribution in the free software community.

"We hope that PPAs will make it easier for developers and development teams who have excellent ideas to get their work into the hands of users for testing and feedback. The PPA service is a build system, a publishing system and a community experience all in one."

The Launchpad PPA Service is available at launchpad.net.

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