Software Repository

A software repository is a storage location from which software packages may be retrieved and installed on a computer.


Many software publishers and other organizations maintain servers on the Internet for this purpose, either free of charge or for a subscription fee. Repositories may be solely for particular programs, such as CPAN for the Perl programming language, or for an entire operating system. Operators of such repositories typically provide a package management system, tools intended to search for, install and otherwise manipulate software packages from the repositories. For example, many Linux distributions use Advanced Packaging Tool (APT), commonly found in Debian based distributions, or yum found in Red Hat based distributions. There are also multiple independent package management systems, such as pacman, used in Arch Linux and equo, found in Sabayon Linux.

As software repositories are designed to include useful packages, major repositories are designed to be malware free. If a computer is configured to use a digitally signed repository from a reputable vendor, and is coupled with an appropriate permissions system, this significantly reduces the threat of malware to these systems. As a side effect, many systems that have these capabilities do not require anti-malware software such as anti-virus software.[1]

Most major Linux distributions have many repositories around the world that mirror the main repository.

Package management system vs. package development process

A package management system is different from a package development process.

A typical use of a package management system is to facilitate the integration of code from possibly different sources into a coherent stand-alone operating unit. Thus, a package management system might be used to produce a distribution of Linux, possibly a distribution tailored to a specific restricted application.

A package development process, by contrast, is used to manage the co-development of code and documentation of a collection of functions or routines with a common theme, producing thereby a package of software functions that typically will not be complete and usable by themselves. A good package development process will help users conform to good documentation and coding practices, integrating some level of unit testing. The table below provides examples of package development processes.

Selected repositories

The following table lists a few languages with repositories for contributed software. The "Autochecks" column describes the routine checks done.

Very few people have the ability to test their software under multiple operating-systems with different versions of the core code and with other contributed packages they may use. For R, the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) runs tests routinely. To see how this is valuable, suppose Sally contributes a package A. Sally only runs the current version of the software under one version of Microsoft Windows, and has only tested it in that environment. At more or less regular intervals, CRAN tests Sally's contribution under a dozen combinations of operating systems and versions of the core R language software. If one of them generates an error, she gets that error message. With luck, that error message may suffice to allow her to fix the error, even if she cannot replicate it with the hardware and software she has. Next, suppose John contributes to the repository a package B that uses a package A. Package B passes all the tests and is made available to users. Later, Sally submits an improved version of A, which unfortunately, breaks B. The autochecks make it possible to provide information to John so he can fix the problem.

This example exposes both a strength and a weakness in the R contributed-package system: CRAN supports this kind of automated testing of contributed packages, but packages contributed to CRAN need not specify the versions of other contributed packages that they use. Procedures for requesting specific versions of packages exist, but contributors might not use those procedures.

Beyond this, a repository such as CRAN running regular checks of contributed packages actually provides an extensive if ad hoc test suite for development versions of the core language. If Sally (in the example above) gets an error message she does not understand or thinks is inappropriate, especially from a development version of the language, she can (and often does with R) ask the core development-team for the language for help. In this way, the repository can contribute to improving the quality of the core language software.

Language / purpose Package Development Process Repository How to install Collaborative development platform Autochecks
C++ Boost
Haskell Common Architecture for Building Applications and Libraries (CABAL) Hackage [1]
Java Maven [2]
Julia [3]
Common Lisp Quicklisp [4]
.NET NuGet NuGet [5]
Node.js NPM [6]
Perl CPAN PPM[7]
Python Setuptools PyPI pip, EasyInstall, PyPM
R R CMD check process[2][3] CRAN install.packages R-Forge Roughly weekly on 12 platforms or combinations of different version of R (devel, prerel, patched, release) with up to 7 different operating systems (different versions of Linux, Windows, and Mac).
Bioconductor BiocLite.R
Ruby RubyGems Ruby Application Archive RubyForge

(Parts of this table were copied from a "List of Top Repositories by Programming Language" on Stack Overflow[4])

Repository managers

Software to manage repositories (repository managers) includes:

  • Apache Archiva - "repository management software [for a] build artifact repository"[5]
  • Inedo's ProGet "Universal Package Manager. World-class features. Accessible for everyone."[6]
  • JFrog's Artifactory - "managing binaries throughout the development cycle"[7]
  • MyGet - "continuous delivery service hosting 1000s of NuGet, Bower and NPM package repositories"[8]
  • Package Drone - "a package manager repository for OSGi"[9]
  • Sonatype's Nexus - "used by over 20,000 organizations"[10]

See also


  1. ^ itmWEB: Coping with Computer Viruses Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Leisch, Friedrich. "Creating R Packages: A Tutorial" (PDF). 
  3. ^ Graves, Spencer B.; Dorai-Raj, Sundar. "Creating R Packages, Using CRAN, R-Forge, And Local R Archive Networks And Subversion (SVN) Repositories" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "List of Top Repositories by Programming Language". Stack Overflow. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ "Apache Archiva: The Build Artifact Repository Manager". The Apache Software Foundation. Retrieved . Apache Archiva[...] is an extensible repository management software that helps taking care of your own personal or enterprise-wide build artifact repository. 
  6. ^ "ProGet". Inedo. Retrieved . Consistency, continuity, compliance - all in one centralized universal package manager with ProGet. 
  7. ^ "Artifactory. Manage Your Binaries.". JFrog. Retrieved . As the first Binary Repository Management solution, Artifactory has changed the way binaries are controlled, stored and managed throughout the software release cycle. 
  8. ^ "MyGet: Hosted NuGet, NPM, Bower and Vsix". MyGet. Retrieved . MyGet hosts thousands of NuGet, Bower and NPM repositories used by companies and individual developers worldwide. MyGet comes with built-in Build Services, and also provides friction-free integration with GitHub, BitBucket and Visual Studio Online. 
  9. ^ "Package Drone". Retrieved . The idea is to have a workflow of Tycho Compile -> publish to repo -> Tycho Compile (using deployed artifacts). And some repository tools like cleanup, freezing, validation. 
  10. ^ "Nexus Repository Manager". Sonatype. Retrieved . Nexus Pro gives you more information, more control, and better collaboration across your team than ever before. And it works with build tools like Ant, Ivy, Gradle, Maven, SBT and others. Use Nexus as the foundation for your complete Component Lifecycle Management approach. 

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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