Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 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.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.