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Sneak Peeks at openSUSE 11.0: Package Management, with Duncan Mac-Vicar

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In this article we will be covering all of the changes in and around the package management stack in the upcoming openSUSE 11.0. There have been a plethora of both visual and behind-the-scenes changes. We’ll also be talking to Duncan Mac-Vicar, YaST team lead, ZYpp and KDE developer, to find out a little more later.

Behind the Scenes

New Metadata
One of the major changes resulting in the lightning-fast package management of openSUSE 11.0 are the new SOLV files used now for metadata. While the classic RPM-MD (YUM) metadata in XML format is nicely readable, it results in significantly larger files and takes much longer to parse than is needed. The new dictionary-based SOLV format for repositories are up to 1/3 of the size and can be parsed in virtually an instant.

New Solver
The old solver had several problems. It was extremely slow in some cases, had a few bad design decisions, and provided bad diagnostics and suggestions if a particular case was unsolvable.

The new SAT solver by Michael Schroeder is based on expressing package dependencies as a boolean satisfiability problem. This in itself brings huge advantages as it is a well-researched problem (many example solvers available), it’s incredibly fast, and there is no need for complex algorithms. Indeed, package solving complexity is extremely low in comparison to other areas where SAT solvers are used.

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