Linked by David Adams on Tue 13th Dec 2011 03:12 UTC
Editorial I was reading today about how Linux Mint developers altered the Banshee music player source code to redirect affiliate revenue from Amazon music orders to them instead of Banshee. They've reportedly made less than $4, which has caused a kerfluffle among those paying attention to that corner of the world. But it raises a larger point that has been swirling around for a couple of decades: an OS vendor has a lot of power to influence, and even monetize their user base. Where should they draw the line?
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If you don't understand why something with the name 'Android' on it not offering the same experience from phone to phone is a bad thing

That is the point I've made from the very beginning. Android has become very much fragmented.

- vendors introduce incompatibilities between Android installs through device and vendor specific customizations. They ship a child fork of Android while claiming to deliver the original parent distribution. This affects the user expectation and interaction with the device.

- vendors cause further incompatibilities through orphaned versions and patch levels. They all claim "Android" with a bazillion apps available from Google's software repository yet not all software in the repository will run on all devices. Updates and patches must first go from Google to the vendors who must then ship a customized version.

So far, Amazon is the only vendor who is doing things properly. When they diverged from Google's Android distribution, they created a clear separation in market representation and software/content repositories. The Kindle Fire draws from Amazon's software repository where anything listed can be expected to run on the device. They market it as "Kindle Fire" a device which happened to have an OS derived from Android not an Android device which happens to be called "Kindle Fire". That is why I recognize them separately from the other vendors.

if you want to insist that these desktop Linux distros are completely different products like Windows and OSX and shouldn't be considered fragmented, I'm not going to argue with you

If one does not understand the market or product category then how can one provide any soft of accurate analysis of that market including. Without understanding the market there is no basis for claiming that it is fragmented. A claim of fragmentation without understanding what is allegedly "fragmented" is what I take issue with here.

You made the claim of fragmentation; "Android, like Linux [distributions]...". I simply pointed out that the claims of fragmentation does not have a basis in how distributions actually work and provided an explanation for why that is.

Unlike Android, the Linux based distribution vendors claim to ship there own branded distributions. They provide there own distribution and version specific software repositories. They managed there own customizations and updates within the distribution. CentOS is basically Red Hat Enterprise with the branding stripped out of it yet CentOS does not point back at Red Hat's software repository; it provides it's own software repository and clearly separate branding.

Fragmentation happens within the limits of a single distribution because that is the product level. That is the level where the vendor/manufacturer controls assembly of the product being delivered to the end user. That is the level that the vendor's resources affect. That is the level where the product's target customer and design goals are decided. Apple does not dedicate resources to or decide how Windows7 will be; Microsoft does. Novell does not dedicate resources to or decide how Red Hat Enterprise will be; Red Hat does. Red Hat's goal of delivering a retail product does not dictate that Debian can not be a non-profit organization delivering a non-retail product.

For the claim of fragmentation one would have to show it happening within the limits of a single entity. Debian would have to be shipping multiple incompatible version 6 distributions claiming all of them to be the same item. The Linux kernel developers would have to be working on multiple OS kernels with incompatibilities between them while claiming them all to be the same kernel.

There are examples of where fragmentation has happened. In the early days of Ubuntu there where all kinds of customized remixes by third parties. Canonical had to eventually say "We think it's great to see what you are building based on our work but unless it is an official Canonical managed version, you may not represent your derived work as ours."

Claiming Linux based distributions are all one horribly fragmented thing is like claiming that everybody who lives on your street are the same dysfunctional household just because there homes are all on the same block and they don't all get along.

At least I don't have to use any of them, and most developers will continue not making apps for any of them, so I don't really give a rat's ass.

I don't really question if you use any particular distribution. I question your experience and basis for providing a valid opinion on the subject.

As for developers, there does seem to be quite a few who do make apps for "any of them" either out of personal motivation or paying job requirements. I'm thankful for the one's who do and don't begrudge the ones that don't for lack of paid motivation to do so. Who develops for what and why is really a more complicated topic outside of the scope of distribution differentiation and product fragmentation though.

In your specific case, I hope your OS of choice and developer tools continue to treat you as well as my several OS of choices continue to treat me. Whatever supports your needs. And the "nobody writes for the OS group I don't like" parting shot; your adorable.

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