A free software developer adventure

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

OOo Solver, what's that ???

Last week, I wanted to work on the OOo development on a fresh new PC. Hence, I started building from scratch the whole OpenOffice.org one more time... That took me around 10 hours (if I do not count the time I spend on correcting errors*). That's quite too much for someone that has some time to work on OOo but not entire weeks. Developpers could wish to start developping on OOo without having that compiling step. This is where the "Solver" comes. The solver is exactly an already compiled OpenOffice.org that allows a developper to start working on the code and avoid the building step**. That could seem like a perfect solution, but it has some drawbacks and limitations :
  • a solver is huge (around 2G not zipped)
  • each Linux distribution needs its own solver because of incompatibilities between the tools versions (gcc, java...)
Let's ignore the space problem of the solver and concentrate on the second issue. On Windows, there are no problems related to libraries, so why should we have on Linux ? Couldn't we provide an entire environment with everything that is needed so that a developper only needs to unpack a tarball in a directory, launch a script that changes the environment variables and start to develop ? I think that helping new developpers to work on OOo is a key to its success, and the compiling step is quite discouraging. Maybe the ease of setting the environment could help and attract the developpers of tomorrow. What do you think ? * : all the errors where related to not having installed the right libraries at the right place, but it took me some time to understand it. ** : how developpers work on StarOffice


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