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There are several examples of packaging where an application package is built, named, described, even licensed, but contains only setup code and dependencies -- it has no first-class runtime software of its own. I would call this "meta-packaging".

This seems to be particularly popular in the open-source world, including examples like kde-meta (Gentoo Portage), Plone, and I'm sure lots of others. I can see how it's a useful practice, but despite it existing as a practice, I couldn't find a formal definition of either "meta-packaging" or "meta-egg" (Python) in searching the web. Is that not the correct term? If it is, is it such common-sense that it needs no formal definition? If not, what is the correct way to put it?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would describe a meta-package just has you described it: A collection of software and dependencies distributed as a single package with no or extremely little code of its own.

You could use Debian or RPM packages as an example: You have meta packages that install nothing but dependencies and programs that most people want.

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