Re: Software Install/Config via WWW

Rick Troth (
Thu, 22 Sep 1994 22:06:05 +0200

> I'd like to be able to install a package:
> * on a per-user basis, in $HOME somewhere
> * on a per-group basis, in some group-writable directory
> * on a per-host basis, in /usr/local or some such
> (root priv. required)
> * on a per-site basis, in some nfs-exported directory
> or some such

This gets into sysadmin tastes and tactics and is (obviously)
quite O/S dependent. You're probably talking about UNIX. (well ...
WSK is targetted to UNIX) ;-)

Yes, all four are essential features. The way we have done it
at Rice handles 3 and 4 nicely (the same way). I think there's enough
momentum in the net (shareware and freebe applications) that all four
are doable without much effort.

> Further, I'd like to install a package on a per-user basis, test
> it out, and then upgrade it to a per-group/host/site installation
> without much hassle.

Amen! If the structure of the app is the typical bin,
lib, and (maybe) etc directories under the application root,
you're in good shape. We've been layering a "platform" level
between the app-root and the real stuff:

and so on

But this is UNIX, not the web.

Back to the web: I've used this thing 'webcat' with
some success to distribute "archives" of pre-built applications.
Say you've got X11R5 pl25. You might have it all compiled and
ready to go in the file X11R5-pl25.tar. I think it's kinda neat
to be able to

mkdir app-root # whereever it might be
chdir app-root
webcat URL | tar xf -

and just fill-out the tree right off the wire.

> It's really a shame that a software distribution can't be just
> unpacked anywhere in the filesystem and work properly. A unix
> executable can't reliably find the directory where it lives
> to find config files.

Yeah. That's frustrating. That capability is my goal.
With UNIX, the location is often compiled-in. Bad. But what else
can you do? Stick everything in /etc? X has the app-defaults
directory and the resources database. Then there are environment
variables, but those are a pain to initialize consistently.

But we're getting back into UNIX again. Sorry guys.

> What a mess!
> ...
> Dan

Rick Troth <>, Rice University, Information Systems