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October 16, 2007

A few webpin improvements

I spent some time rewriting the backend for my package search over the weekend to

a) Improve indexing efficiency
b) Improve search result accuracy

Many of the repositories the search indexes change frequently, especially factory & packman. Updates to the index were starting to take unacceptably long, when indexing now about 208,000 packages, their descriptions & filelists.

With a few improvements such as skipping package details & files from packages which are unchanged after a repository update, redesigning the table/index structure. The indexer is now far faster and less i/o intensive when performing incremental updates. This should mean I can keep the search index more up to date, and be less annoying to other users of the server.

I also spent some time analysing the search queries, and used what I learnt to enable full search of the files within a package. Previously only a rough comparison to the filenames was made. Now you can even search for a full filename, like /opt/kde3/bin/kopete . Normal queries such as konversation or kde irc client will still work.

I made a few other small improvements too, e.g. filenames with binary matches will be ranked higher, so searches for something like kopete are a bit more useful, finding /opt/kde3/bin/kopete

The next thing on webpin TODO, after fixing all the problems that arise from these changes, is to make some frequently requested improvements to the web frontend, such as adding Install Now links to each search result. And perhaps alter the theme to fit with the new openSUSE-community theme .

If you prefer the command line to a web browser, check out yaloki’s command line client


May 06, 2007

Another simple software install demo.

Writing about web page http://benjiweber.co.uk/installdemo/

I have created some example link buttons to trigger software installation from a web page.

e.g.: installlogo.

And set up a demo page with 3 working examples people can use to try out the concept. See http://benjiweber.co.uk/installdemo/ for the demo page. If you’re on openSUSE give it a try and let me know your comments & ideas. You’ll need to install the demo package as per instructions on the demo page.

If you have installed it correctly you should be able to click one of the links and get a wizard like this which will add the required repositor(y|ies) and install the software for you.

There are also the “Install now” links on the testing package search page which are automatically generated, and should work the same way.

You can also try out the package search YaST client which allows you to use the package search from within YaST, and select any package on any repository for installation with the aforementioned wizard. Simply run ”/sbin/YaST2 PackageSearch” after installing the package linked from the installdemo page.


October 22, 2006

openSUSE package search

Writing about web page http://benjiweber.co.uk:8080/webpin

One of the problems many SUSE users have is locating software. Package management eases installation of software, but locating packages which are not in the official repositories may be problematic. SUSE’s main repository is fairly large with approximately 22,000 officially supported packages. However there are still many packages that SUSE cannot package for logistical or legal reasons. Most software can be found in one of many package repositories, but finding the repository containing the package containing what you are after may be a pain when you don’t know where to look.

This is why we constantly have questions like “Where do I find the w32codecs” or “what package provides libpng.so.3” on #suse on freenode. YaST’s software management module does have a perfectly good “provides” checkbox which will tell you this information but a) Most users don’t notice that it exists, and b) It will only work for repositories you have added as sources to YaST.

This in mind I have been working recently on a page to search packages and their contents across any repositories. I am currently indexing ~90 repositories for SUSE Linux 10.1, including the biggest few. I shall probably expand this to include all the rest of the repositories at some point.

Obligatory screenshot:

Package matches & the repository they come from are shown.

Clicking on a package name shows package summary/description & opportunity to view the entire package contents.

If you’re looking for a specific application, prepending bin/ to your search term may help find it. For example searching for bin/kopete will find you all the packages that provide kopete.

There are still several issues to work out, but suggestions are welcome.


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  • Hey skx, how do you do that ? I run into the fu….. problem, that curl terminate with unspec. errors.… by David on this entry
  • With some minor changes this will also work for updating from 11.0 to 11.1. by skx on this entry
  • You are the man!!! Great work and good documentation! It worked without any problem for me. Thanks a… by Vany on this entry
  • didn't work for me. In fact killed the system. Have to download 11.0 and burn to dvd to fix it. by maybe windows on this entry
  • Will this method work for 11 => 11.1 ? by Erik Jakobsen on this entry

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