Phil Potter on Dolstra's "The Purely Functional Software Deployment Model"
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This PhD thesis is about software deployment. Deployment is not often seen as an academic topic, but the reason I like this thesis is because it takes an academic approach of defining the problem carefully and choosing the correct abstractions, and in doing so enables the application of knowledge from other areas such as memory management and memoization to the seemingly unrelated field of deployment.
The thesis collects the theoretical ideas together into a practical tool called nix, a package manager which is still in use today.
You don't need to read the whole thesis for this talk! It would be more than enough to read just Part 1 (ie chapters 1 and 2). Chapter 1 states the problem and reviews previous work, including other package managers. Chapter 2 gives a brief overview of the whole nix system.
Eelco Dolstra. The Purely Functional Software Deployment Model. PhD thesis, Faculty of Science, Utrecht, The Netherlands. January 2006.