Canonical announces beta of Launchpad ‘Personal Package Archive’

Canonical today announced the beta release of the Launchpad Personal Package Archive (PPA) service, a new way for developers to build and publish packages of their code, documentation, artwork, themes and other contributions to free software.

Individuals and teams can each have a PPA, allowing groups to collaborate on sets of packages, and solo developers to publish their own versions of popular free software. Developers upload packages to a PPA and have it built for multiple architectures against the current version of Ubuntu. Each user gets up to one gigabyte of Personal Package Archive space, which works as a standard Ubuntu software package repository. Free PPAs are available only for free (“libre”) software packages.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, explained the significance of Launchpad Personal Package Archives for the Ubuntu community: “Many developers want to modify existing packages, or create new packages of their software. The PPA service allows anyone to publish a package without having to ask permission or join the Ubuntu project as a developer. This is a tremendous innovation in the free software community. We hope that PPA will make it easier for developers and development teams who have excellent ideas to get their work into the hands of users for testing and feedback. They also get to mix with experienced packagers to improve their skills. PPA is a build system, a publishing system and a community experience.”

The PPA service is designed to connect developers with their users directly. Users who are interested in those packages can make a single update to their system to enable them to install packages from that PPA. Those users receive automatic updates whenever new versions of the packages are built and published in that PPA.

Personal Package Archives also make it easy for developers to test new and experimental software builds. Matt Zimmerman, CTO of Canonical, said: “Adding a new feature to a package or building it against a new version of a system library requires extensive testing. A PPA allows a developer to form a community of testers who are interested in her changes. The testing community can install the packages, run them for the test period, then remove them cleanly from their system. If the developer releases an updated version, the Ubuntu Update Manager will automatically notify those testers and enable them to update to the newer versions with a single click. This creates a very efficient environment for developers and testers to improve their favorite software.”

Getting Started

The Launchpad PPA service is currently in beta. To participate in the beta program, please send an email to ppa-beta@launchpad.net.

Launchpad PPA Service will be released for general use on August 22, 2007 in line with the regular Launchpad release cycle. The PPA Service will be available at https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+ppas.

At launch, software in Personal Archive Packages will be built for x86 and AMD64 architectures.

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