I was very facinated by a system called Store, developed many years ago at nvg.ntnu.no. It didn't work very well, and it was really a collection of hacks written in perl4. It was also dependent on NFS, another weakness. Anyway, many of the ideas behind it was extremely cool. I am missing several of the features at the feature list above:
- Automatic packet upgrades and installation overnight. This is clearly not for the faint of the heart or for production servers, but anyway very cool indeed. You just go to the pub, and when you arrive at work the next day there is new software installed.
- All users at a lab get messages when fresh software or upgrades has arrived.
- There is always a database of all applications available
- The system was heterogenous, it would search for a version of the software that was compiled for the platform/CPU/OS beeing used. The system kept track of what files needed to be recompiled. The system didn't compile things itself, but that feature was actually beeing developed.
- Since the system worked over NFS, it was actually possible to try out software locally without installing it first.
- Completely distributed system, with weighting of what servers to priority.
In my opinion, rpm sucks even more than to manually compile and install every single software package beeing needed. This system seems a bit better, but there is still room to grow.