Linked by Kostis Kapelonis on Sat 14th May 2011 15:43 UTC
General Development Application stores are growing everywhere like mushrooms. While users have initially embraced application stores because of the ease they offer with application installation, developers have several complaints. Division of profits from paid application and ineffectiveness of the screening process are among the major issues. Are application stores the best distribution channel possible? Can they satisfy both developers and users?
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RE: App stores vs distros - jailbreaking
by jabbotts on Sat 14th May 2011 23:44 UTC in reply to "App stores vs distros"
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Having to jailbreak is the primary point. With Idevices, it's not just an option toggle (Android) or easy easter-egg standard across all devices running the OS (Maemo). The fact that one must jailbreak the device and potentially repeatedly with a new method every OS update sucks.

In terms of android, perhaps rooting is different from adding third party repositories. In terms of rooting, that used to be a different method per Android version and hardware version combination if it's not still. The issue isn't just the ability to add third party repositories but the ability to have complete access to one's own purchased property. Android also suffers from poor repository management. I'd much rather see a two or three teer vetting process like Debian's unstable/testing/stable or Maemo's development/testing/production methods.

"if Android worked like most Linux distros do, each individual phone would have its own app store"

Currently, repositories differ by distribution not device they happen to be on. Debian repositories don't care if they are accessed from my server, desktop, notebook or MID. Ubuntu is a fork of Debian and had to provide it's own repositories. Mint is a fork of Debian and it had to provide it's own repositories. Mandriva does not draw on Red Hat's repositories. These are all separate distributions managed by different organizations and should indeed draw on repositories also managed by those organizations. If you want to work within the distribution, you work within it's repositories and organizational structure. There are very good reasons why that is.

Repositories are a defining and competitive attribute of the distribution. Customer service, product quality control, available software.. all there. Does the distro have good quality control (Debian's three stages) or is it less competitive on that aspect (Gentoo's IRC Server incident). Versions of programs are not the latest and greatest (Debian Stable), consider a distribution that provides more bleeding edge with resulting less stability (Ubuntu forked from Debian Testing/Unstable branches). Competitive or defining attributes are not foreign to any other product category either; cars, tooth paste.. all got them.

Now, if Android where like traditional Linux based distributions any vendor shipping uncorrupted Android would draw on Android repositories regardless of what hardware branding it's installed on. If a device is branded as an "Android device" it should be able to easily take Google's core distribution firmware through a standard flashing process; let manufacturers provide a small separate blob image for device specific drivers if they must. Really, they should be providing the drivers back to the core distribution's kernel but the add-on blob is an acceptable compromise for the moment.

Vendor's who must fork Android into there own one-off version, as has been sadly popular, should indeed be providing there own repositories. They fork the distribution away from the parent distro, they accept the responsibility of managing there own repositories and loss of use of the "Android" branding. It may actually work out in the end user's favor by adding another bit of motivation to stick with Google's parent distribution rather than go it alone for branding or malware purposes (like Motorola's logic bomb modification).

In my time, I've not really seen packages pulled from a repository under threat of lagall action. The only example I can really think of is probably a decade old when Red Hat stopped including the mp3 codec and similar multi-media related packaged (RH3'ish?). It made the distro more appropriate for business use and I found Mandrake which was more appropriate for home use.

There are still distributions that deliver limited or poorly managed repositories and that's what makes other distributions preferable choices. Ubuntu draws on Debian's testing/unstable branches and makes poor security related choices about default configurations so I use a distro that better supports my preferences for stability and strong security related defaults. Want a phenomenal set of "control panel" type utilities; Mandriva's draketools make it a very attractive new user distribution (hopefully they've improved on the overall distribution management or the Magea folks do better).

In short though, if Android was like traditional distributions, it would probably be much improved over the current mess of fragmentation caused by what should be separate fork distributions continuing to claim branding of the parent distribution while delivering one-off modified versions.

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