Hey peeps, hope you’re having some awesome holidays! Between finishing school and having the end of the year mysteriously suck up all my time, I’ve been squirelling away at a few projects, the first of which is finally ready enough to tell you about!
As you may or may not know, for the last little while devkitPro has been using a modified version of the pacman package manager to distribute its toolchains and libraries. This is a great update to the somewhat manual methods used previously, encouraging updates and unifying everyone’s environments.
I saw the effect this had on how easy it was to use devkitPro’s toolchains and wondered if the same thing could be done for the Wii U scene. Currently, the methods most of us use to sort out dependencies and libraries look something like this:
- Manually compiling and installing dependencies: This is common for libraries
specific to the Wii U -
make && make installor whatever the language equivalent happens to be. This works well enough, but doesn’t play well with updates, and makes it very hard to uninstall packages.
- Leaving a list and hoping: This one is sadly all too common - telling users they’ll need to have a working X, Y or Z installed and hoping they’ll get that sorted on their own. While this is okay to an extent (we assume some computer literacy) it can quickly result in everyone finding slightly different ways to do things, causing problems if not accounted for.
- Uploading all dependencies, pre-built: A very tempting option is to compile all a project’s dependencies as needed and then upload them somewhere, leaving instructions on extracting an archive of the binaries. This guarantees that each user has all the right libraries, but has the massive probelm in that different projects conflict with each other. These archives often overwrite existing devkitPro files, and contain slightly different versions of libraries also shipped in other projects. You can see how quickly this turns messy, especially when considering header files.
So yeah… It ain’t great.
If only we could use a real package manager! This is the issue I’m trying to solve with Fling, a repository for pacman dedciated to libraries used in Wii U homebrew. I explain a bit more in the git repo, but suffice to say that developers can now include a list of things to install from both Fling and the devkitPro repositories; allowing pacman to handle the file conflicts and making the community worry about porting libraries to the Wii U. As long as your code doesn’t break on newer library versions - and I’ll make every effort to avoid that happening - then you simply won’t have to worry about dependencies!
This whole thing is still very much in beta, so I may be missing libraries and there could be bugs or downtime. Feel free to contact me with any issues (contact methods!) and I’ll do my best to work through them. I kinda rushed this one out for the holiday season, so please bear with me. I’m fairly sure sdl2 doesn’t even work yet (at least wut does!)
You can check out the repo, containing more words, install instructions, and build scripts for all the packages shipped here. Poking around, you might see that Fling runs entirely from GitLab CI and GitLab Pages - that’s one of the aspects of this project I’m most proud of! Builds are automated, and all steps from compilation to signing to publishing run in a publicly visible pipeline. Hopefully that’s enough to trust me
Till next time, happy hacking!
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