Debian is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software. .deb is the format or extension of the software packages used to extend Debian operating systems’ functionality. Debian-based Linux distributions are typically used as the base operating system for deployment infrastructure because of their ubiquity and community support.
Debian packages are hosted publicly and maintained by a very active open-source community. Despite this, organizations with strict security requirements may choose to have their own private repositories that host Debian packages. This helps them to mitigate the risk of an unverified package accidentally getting installed in their infrastructure.
Packagecloud is a repository management platform that allows you to create such public or private repositories to host packages belonging to multiple languages and frameworks.
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What are software registries?
Software repositories or registries host software packages that can be fetched and installed by build and deployment utilities. They help developers to make use of already developed software in building their applications. A software repository can be a public one hosted by a non-profit foundation or an open-source community.
It could also be a private repository hosted by the engineering organization itself. Private repositories are preferred in the case of high-security applications because they allow the organization to provide a carefully curated list of reusable packages to their developers.
On the other hand, this also means the developers do not always have access to the latest and greatest software packages and may need to reinvent the wheel at times. Modern open-source software-based application development relies heavily on publicly hosted software repositories for this very reason.
A workaround to avoid this difficult choice between security and extensibility is the use of a hybrid model. The hybrid approach uses a combination of private and public repositories to get the best of both worlds.
Some of the very popular software repositories are the Debian package repository, Python’s PyPI repository, NodeJS’ NPM repository, etc. All these software repositories handle hosting packages for a specific language, framework, or operating system.
A large engineering organization that uses multiple frameworks and languages will have a tough time keeping track of multiple sources. A solution to this problem is to use a software repository management utility that supports multiple languages and platforms. Packagecloud is one such utility that can host packages for Python, NodeJS, Debian, and much more.
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Why do we need .deb files to be part of software repositories?
Most organizations use multiple languages and frameworks to build their application suite. For example, they may use AngularJS or NodeJS to build their web application. They may use Python or Java to build their microservices and maybe Scala and Spark for their ETL pipeline. All these languages and frameworks will have package repositories associated with them for the build and deployment process.
Organizations can choose to struggle with multiple repositories or select the repository management software packagecloud, which can handle multiple languages and frameworks. Nevertheless, continuous integration and deployment is not only about the application packages but also the infrastructure and containers that the application is running from. In the current age, this is done based on docker images and kubernetes clusters.
The process of building a deployment container starts with a base image of the operating system and then progresses to fetching packages to create the required environment. Even in the absence of a docker-based deployment environment, the infrastructure setup is mostly automated now using scripts that start from a base operating system and install dependencies one by one to set up the environment. So if the organization is using Debian-based Linux for building its containers, it now has to keep track of the Debian package repository along with the repositories for languages and frameworks.
This is why it is important for repository management software like packagecloud to have support for deb files. It helps developers to keep all the packages they require in one place. Having everything in one private cloud or hybrid repository helps them to manage security in a more refined manner. By using the package repository packagecloud, organizations can even mitigate security risks such as dependency confusion and substitution attacks.
Which software registries support .deb files?
RpmDeb is a cloud-based repository management solution that allows the creation of private repositories that support multiple languages and frameworks. As of now, it supports RPM and DEP. RPM is the package format for RedHat-based Linux distributions.
RpmDeb has plans to include Maven, NPM, and PHP repositories in its features. It offers high package availability without the customer having to spend their money and effort in setting up infrastructure for the package repository. It supports user-based access management and authenticated repository URLs. Checksums and GPG signatures are also supported to avoid unverified packages entering the repository.
It offers unlimited users and unlimited private repositories. Pricing is capped based on the storage space and bandwidth used by the repositories. The cheapest plan starts at $15 per month for 5 GB of storage and 15 GB of bandwidth.
Cloudsmith is a software supply chain management solution that supports many programming languages and frameworks. It supports packages for NPM, Python, Maven, Debian, RPM, PHP, and many more. Cloudsmith is purely cloud-native and promises high availability for all your packages. It can integrate with continuous integration platforms like CircleCI.
Cloudsmith enables high security for your packages through centralized security and highly capable malware scanning. Storage and communication are encrypted through 256-bit encryption. It supports checksums and GPG signatures to prevent tampering with your packages.
Cloudsmith pricing starts from $99 per month for the most basic plan. The basic plan does not have important features like edge caching, custom domains, etc.
JFrog provides a universal artifact management solution for end-to-end distribution and release management. It supports most of the popular frameworks and languages—Python, Maven, Debian, RPM, etc. It can integrate with continuous integration platforms and automate the build process.
JFrog can be deployed on-premises, on popular cloud platforms, or accessed as a competently managed service. All standard security practices like encryption, checksums, and GPG signatures are supported out of the box.
JFrog provides a free plan for beginners, but this plan lacks basic features like an admin dashboard, critical security features, etc. The starting plan for $98 per month only allows 4 GB of storage, which can get filled up pretty easily.
Gemfury is a cloud-based package repository that supports packages for Python, Bower, Debian, RPM, etc. A unique feature is its support for the Ruby programming language, which many package repositories do not support at this point. All standard security measures (SSL encryption, authenticated repository URLs, etc.) are supported.
Gemfury offers excellent user and permission management features through its intuitive admin dashboard. Gemfury provides a private cloud-hosted repository and does not make any mention of the ability to install it in on-premises systems.
Gemfury offers its public repository plan for free. If you need private repositories, the pricing is in terms of the number of contributors that will be using the services. It starts from $9 per month for a single collaborator. The team plan starts at $25 per month.
Aptly advertises itself as the swiss army knife for Debian package management. It can help you duplicate remote repositories, manage private or locate package repositories, and publish your own Debian repositories. Aptly is meant exclusively for Debian package management and does not support any other languages or frameworks—so an organization that needs to manage repositories for multiple languages and frameworks is better off with a package repository like packagecloud.
Aptly does not provide a cloud-based hosted solution, so the user needs to manage the aptly installation and set up the infrastructure for their package repository. Aptly can publish the repositories to AWS S3, but, again, the user is responsible for the account and infrastructure setup. Aptly is open source and free to use. If you need commercial support, a custom licensing arrangement can be facilitated.
How is packagecloud different from the above registries?
If you are looking for an all-in-one package management solution that is cloud-hosted and capable of handling multiple frameworks and languages, packagecloud should be at the top of your list. Packagecloud supports languages like Python, Java, NodeJS, etc. and operating systems based on Debian and RPM.
Packagecloud provides high security for your packages and protects your organization against attacks like substitution attacks and dependency attacks. It can integrate with multiple continuous integration platforms: CircleCI, TravisCI, Jenkins, Buildkite, etc.
Packagecloud provides the highest storage size and bandwidth at 15 GB and 50 Gb, respectively, for the base plan. If you go beyond the base plan, the cost per GB for storage and bandwidth is even lower.
We have now learned about the software registries that support hosting .deb files. While there are many repositories that support hosting .deb files, it is tough to find repositories that support .deb along with hosting packages for other languages and frameworks.
Most engineering organizations work with multiple frameworks and languages for their application development and infrastructure needs. Since it is difficult to keep track of different repositories for each language, an all-in-one solution that can support all your package management needs is preferred. This is where packagecloud can be of great value.
Packagecloud is a cloud-based service for distributing software packages to your machines and environments. Packagecloud enables users to store all of the packages that are required by their organization, regardless of OS or programming language, and repeatedly distribute them to their destination machines.
This enables users to efficiently, reliably, and securely set up and update machines without owning any of the infrastructure that is typically required to do that.
Check out the packagecloud free trial to see how easy it is to distribute packages throughout your entire organization. Never worry about the scaling, consistency, or security of your packages again.