Why is the Ubuntu One port to Windows so heavy?

by mandel on September 27th, 2010

On the process on porting Ubuntu One to windows we took a number of decisions that we expect to make peoples live better when installing it.

Python

One of the most important decisions that had to be taken was what to do with python. Most of the code (probably all) of the sync daemon has been written in python and reusing that code is a plus.

In this situation we could have chosen to different paths:

  • Dependency: Add the presence of a python runtime as a dependency. That is either add a bootstrap that installs python, install it in its normal location through a python installer or ask the user to do it for us.
  • Embedded:Use py2exe or pyInstaller to distribute the python binaries so that we do not “require” python to be there.

Both options have their pros an cons but we decide for second one for the following reasons:

  • A user could change the python runtime and brake Ubuntu One
  • More than one runtime could be there.
  • Is a normal user really interested about having python in their machine?

Unfortunately so far I have not managed to use pyInstaller which I’ve been told is smarter than py2exe in terms of creating smaller binary packages (anyone with experience with that is more than welcome to help me).

But Pyhon is not THAT heavy

Indeed, Python is not that heavy and should not make the msi huge. But of course Ubuntu One has a number of dependencies that are not Python alone:

  • Ubuntu SSO: In the last iteration of Ubuntu One the service started using the Ubuntu SSO. This code has been re-writen in C# and in the near future will be exposed by a WCF service so that things such as the Ubuntu One music store could be used on Windows (banshee sounds like a great app to offer on windows)
  • Gnome keyring: This is actually a dependency from Ubuntu SSO, but it has to be taken into account. We needed a place where we could store secrets. I have implemented a small lib that allows to store secrets in the Current User registry key that uses the DPAPI so that the secrets are safe. Later in the cycle I’ll add a WCF service that will allow other apps to store secrets there and might even add an abstraction layer so that it uses the GnomeKeyring code done by NDesk when on Linux.
  • Dependency Injection: I have intially started using WPF but I do not deny the option of using GTK# in the future, or at least have the option. For that I have sued the DI of Spring.Net so that contributors can add their own views. You could even customize your Ubuntu One by modifying the DI and point to a dll that provides a new UI.
  • PDBs are present: Currently PDB files are present and the code is compiled in DEBUG mode, this does make a diff in the size of it.

At the end of the day, all this adds up making the msi quite big. Currently I’m focused on porting all the required code, in the next cycle I’ll make sure you have a nice and small package :D