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Ubuntu Packages Please Get Your Act Together

I didn't intend to write another blog entry so close to the conclusion of my Week with Go series, but my experiences earlier today definitely warranted a rant. Installing the SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine for use as a stand-alone interpreter on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS doesn't sound like outlandish goal. After all, CouchDB ships by default as of 9.10 and it requires a JavaScript run-time. Technologies like node.js and v8 are pretty hot right now so there might even be a few alternatives to choose from, right? WRONG!
sudo apt-get install spidermonkey-bin
E: Couldn't find package spidermonkey-bin
There used to be such a package but apparently SpiderMonkey is "unsupported" now and was removed from the Universe repository.

Sorry Ubuntu. I'm not feeling the love for Rhino. It doesn't do JIT and runs slower than a one-legged sloth. Besides, I don't feel like installing ca-certificates-java, default-jre-headless, icedtea-6-jre-cacao, java-common, libavahi-client3, libavahi-common-data, libavahi-common3, libcups2, libjline-java, liblcms1, libnspr4-0d, libnss3-1d, openjdk-6-jre-headless, openjdk-6-jre-lib, and tzdata-java on my system.

I thought about installing it from source but then I'd lose the benefits all the experts say I get from using packages*. After a bit of searching I found some developer rolled a package that is available from a Launchpad PPA, so all I'd have to do is just add the repository!
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:launchpad/ppa
sudo: add-apt-repository: command not found
Sigh. add-apt-repository is provided by the package python-software-properties. The intuitiveness of it all is underwhelming.

It's great that PPAs exist and people volunteer their time to maintain them to fill the gap, but Ubuntu needs to pull its head out of its ass and get its act together. Ubuntu gained popularity because people were pissed at Red Hat, not by emulating OSX with moving its close buttons, adding boring purple artwork, or the Dropbox rip-off called Ubuntu One. It needs to focus on solving real problems, like developing better package identification/search solutions, finding better ways to convey information and their rational when dropping support for packages, and making the entire system user-friendly. If Ubuntu keeps disrespecting the needs of its user base then it's only a matter of time until the popularity-torch is passed to another distro.

* Benefits include unexpected dropped support, irrelevant dependencies and symlinks puked all over the system, inconsistent packaging conventions, headaches, dry-mouth, and an occasional ulcer.


  1. Not sure why you say it's a Ubuntu issue? This seems like a upstream issue.

    If you don't want to install the package which houses add-apt-repository (it's installed by default), then just add the package manually.

    Your ranting won't go anywhere to fix the problem. Make a suggestion, provide a patch, add a question, beat up a MOTU - do something constructive to get it back in the repository - seems Alexander Sack is the one to hit up.

    It also seems to be an issue in other distros too.

  2. add-apt-repository was not installed on my system and its package name wasn't remotely intuitive. But you bring up a good point... I may need to hit up a MOTU.

  3. Here's another example...

    $ wineprefixcreate
    The program 'wineprefixcreate' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
    sudo apt-get install wine1.2
    $ sudo apt-get install wine1.2
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information... Done
    wine1.2 is already the newest version.



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