i don't know/understand the technicalities behind this but would it be possible (or how difficult) to create a single file format that will work on all linux distros on the same architecture???
this would solve quite a lot of problems i think.
A file format can't actually solve the main problems that come up when trying to ship a binary-only app. At best, if your app was broken in whatever old format you shipped it in, you'd just end up with an app that installs/uninstalls smoothly but doesn't work.
Broken/non tested apps should not be shipped in the first place. But at least something like this (if feasible) will solve the problem of distributing software. In the end its all about the user and the experience he has.
And even if you don't give a fuck about the user why not create (if possible) an automated process (from source code to package) that will free the devs from the burden of creating a many different packages.
Broken/non tested apps should not be shipped in the first place.
What I meant is an app that's not working on a particular distro due to missing/broken dependencies or other configuration details (e.g. a shared library built without a needed compile-time option, a daemon not running, a device filename removed or renamed, an X11 or OpenGL extension falling into disuse and having a buggy setup). And you can't test on every distro your app will be used on because they don't exist yet. I was trying to fit that part into the 1-minute edit window so I didn't properly consider how I worded it.
A popular application comes out, and the audience starts complaining that it wasn't packaged in a format that everyone can use.
The developers respond, saying that no matter WHAT package format they use, they'll get complaints. (If they use .deb, the .rpm people will complain. If they use .rpm, the .deb people will complain. The people who use neither .deb nor .rpm will complain no matter what)
The audience is genuinely surprised and says, "oh wow I didn't realize this was a problem", and everyone starts discussing how there should be ONE STANDARD packaging format that all the distros should use
Discussions continue, and perhaps a half-done "universal packaging format" prototype will be created, claiming to solve all the world's problems.
The distro mainainers will all explain their valid reasons why this new packaging format won't meet their needs, and then they will point out that their packaging needs are all mutually exclusive
In the end, it will be decided that "more choice is better, after all that's what FOSS is about", and everyone will support having several different packaging options instead of one universal format
Weeks/Months/Years later, developers will still be stuck once again either having to package their app in ten different ways, or hand-rolling their own custom packages
I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the times I've seen this cycle repeated.
Is there really no readymade script that would spit out a few debs & rpms in the, say, three most popular versions of each?
Shouldn't be that weird to consider a binary input (ie. DESTDIR installation here, .desktop file there) and to merely wrap it up. Wouldn't even need to care what packages are named in the distros, since these binary games bundle their own libs anyway.