Some brief history
I have been contributing my time to an Open Source project called ArcoLinux.
You can find more information over on the Arch Linux Wiki
The journey started by answering technical support questions over on the Forum. These issues ranged from users experiencing unique hardware related problems to software problems. Not all were specific to Arch Linux, but I was happy to use my skills to help out. I recall a user failing to launch a Python application under a Wayland session. This led me to explore the source-code of the Python application, and identifying then implementing a fix. An existing shell script wrapper script, which called this Python application was updated to resolve the startup issue. This script can be found at https://github.com/arcolinux/archlinux-tweak-tool/blob/master/usr/bin/archlinux-tweak-tool
The lead developer of ArcoLinux then contacted me over Discord and if I was willing to join the team, and help develop a Python application. I agreed…
Arch Linux can be configured to connect to different software repositories, where one can install 1000s of different applications.
In Arch Linux applications are also called “packages”. Packages are identified as official / un-official.
Official packages are ones which are officially provided by the ArchLinux distribution. An example is Firefox.
On the other hand un-official packages which can be obtained from the Arch Linux User Repository (AUR) are community provided packages.
The following links are provided for reference:
Official packages https://archlinux.org/packages/
Un-official AUR packages https://aur.archlinux.org/
There are multiple CLI tools in Arch Linux which can be used to manage the install/removal of these packages. I have named a few of the main ones here.
- yay (written in Go)
- paru (written in Rust)
- pacman (the official Arch Linux tool written in C)
Sofirem: GTK application
A team-member over at ArcoLinux had already made good progress on developing an initial GUI application. The GTK library had been chosen for developing the UI alongside Python. The application was called “Sofirem” - Software Installer Remover.
- User selects a package to install or uninstall
- Sofirem spawns a Pacman process to install/uninstall a package
- Pacman connects to a repository (defined inside /etc/pacman.conf)
- Pacman carries out the necessary package downloads, checks for package conflicts and starts the install/uninstall process
The application would crash randomly when loading, and generate a segmentation core dump. It was difficult to identify where it was failing, firstly due to looking at someone elses code, and secondly the random nature of the crashes.
After exploring the code, adding several
Adding support for installing/uninstalling a package / multi-threading
Whenever, a package was selected to be installed/uninstalled the entire application would freeze. The GUI was running on the main thread, and so were the package install/uninstall processes. This was later changed and split up into different threads.
2 branches were used.
Any code was first tested and merged into the development branch. Later a pull request was used to merge up into the main branch. From there a subsequent pull request was used to merge code into the ArcoLinux dev repository (https://github.com/arcolinux/sofirem-dev) From there, the application was tested by the ArcoLinux team. Eventually the application was merged up into the main repository (https://github.com/arcolinux/sofirem) where it was ready to be packaged up and then deployed onto a users system.
- Search for a package to install/uninstall
- Show installed packages
- Show progress dialog window when installing/uninstalling a package
- Show ArcoLinux ISOs
- Show Package metadata information for a specific package
- Display/monitor Pacman Log file
Each package has a corresponding switch widget, which can be toggled on (install) or toggled off (uninstall)
Progress dialog window
Whenever, the switch widget is toggled on/off a progress dialog is displayed. However, this dialog window can be turned off under the hamburger menu.