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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Member since:

I see. It's bullshit because you don't care to understand that distributions are separate products from separate organizations. Or maybe you do realize that but prefer to intentionally convolute other's understanding for some self satisfaction you derive from it.

I'll say it again; the Distribution is the Product not what kernel it may or may not be based on. If you install Debian with Hurd or a BSD kernel, it's still the Debian distribution. It doesn't magically stop being Debian because it isn't stacked on top of a Linux kernel. User's don't interact with a kernel, they interact with the distribution; the fully assembled product which happens to include an OS kernel of some form.

What's the difference between your example and Jane recommending a fantastic new game that Suzy can't run because it's not available for osX? If clearly separate distributions should all be one, we should be demanding that Microsoft and Apple merge into one organization and deliver a single OS then right?

We can't have Ford and Toyota confusing the end user by not delivering uniform vehicle specs under a single brand. Demand that those two companies also merge along with anyone else who dares produce a product in the automobile category.

Too much toothpaste to choose from.. what brand model fights tarter, the other whitens teeth. Obviously this can't stand.. demand that those products be merged rather than compete in the same product category.

No sir, the bullshit dictating that separate companies should not be allowed to produce competitive products because they happen to use similar parts in the assembly process.

Yes, when it happens on Android, it's called fragmentation. Fragmentation within the space of a single distribution is the same thing. Fragmentation of a product category produces competitive products under separate brands. It provides value to the end user through healthy market forces. Fragmentation within the space of a single brand dilutes that brand and removes value from the end user by resulting in conflicting products all claiming the same name.

The brand is not "Linux".. the brand is Red Hat or Mandriva or Debian or Ubuntu or Mint or Suse. They may or may not use "Linux" as there OS kernel and to the average user, that's not relevant. Do you really think average users care that Android's java runtime environment happens to sit on top of a Linux kernel? Do you really think Iphone average users care about the BSD back end running behind the runtime GUI the user interacts with? Not really. My wife only cares that she can

If you want to make Linux work like the iPhone currently does, you have to start making decisions for people (like selecting a distro) and set it up for them. thereby dictating which apps they're going to have access to, since most of them would never bother to try side-loading in the first place. You asked in your post, why is choice considered a bad thing? Because people don't like to think, and would rather have choices be made for them. And that is what Apple does. I'm not saying that is a good thing; I'm just saying that's the way it is.

"Linux" not really.. I'm not sure how one would make an OS kernel work like a full distribution being that it lacks the userland and interface which a full distribution stacks on top of a given OS kernel.

A distribution which happens to use the Linux kernel or any other applicable kernel.. sure thing. You've already got Android and Ios doing just that. Those are distributions. It's simply not up to the Linux kernel developers; it's up to the distribution providers who happen to target end users with a repository based software channel.

Folks who don't want to choose between distributions simply won't. They'll take whatever distribution a device happens to come pre-isntalled with. No one cares that Tomtom and Garmin units happen to have a Linux kernel under the hood; they simply use the GPS unit. Do Blackberry users really care what kernel runs on the devices? Nope, and yet it still provides add-on apps. But by your decree, anything that happens to use a Linux kernel should give up it's own development goals and merge into a single distribution. Does that include Android since it happens to use a modified Linux kernel or is it magically except?

Here's the key points:

- Fragmentation of the market by producing separate products under separate brand names is part of a healthy market and provides competitive forces which in turn benefit the end user.

- Fragmentation of a single brand within it's own product is a bad thing because it introduces instability and incompatibilities with no benefit to the end user.

- The Linux OS kernel is not the product, the distribution which may or may not use that kernel is. User's don't interact with a kernel, the interact with the resulting platform assembly which happens to include a kernel. One distribution manufacturer can not impose there product design decisions on another; just like any other product category.

- If it's acceptable for other product categories to have competition through separate products from separate entities. Why is it not acceptable for distributions which happen to use a Linux kernel? Should BSDs be merged into this one mega-Linux distro? Why do Windows and osX get to be separate products within the OS category?

Reply Parent Score: 3

WorknMan Member since:

I see. It's bullshit because you don't care to understand that distributions are separate products from separate organizations.

At last, one of them has finally understood.

Yes, when it happens on Android, it's called fragmentation. Fragmentation within the space of a single distribution is the same thing.

The following link is a list of custom ROMs for the Droid Incredible (the phone I own):

And this list is not even including ROMs for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). I have installed many of these roms, and some of them are as different as many Linux distros are from each other. So you can't on one hand claim that Android is like a single distro that all roms run on, and then on the other hand say that all Linux distros are like operating systems, and should be considered completely separate from each other.

If you still want to argue that Android is just another Linux distro, consider this:

If you go to the website of an Android app, it will say that 'this is an Android app'. If you go to a website of a Linux app, it will say 'this is a Linux app'. It doesn't say 'this is a Fedora app' or this is a Ubuntu app'. To further illustrate my example, consider Amarok:

At the very top, it says:

Amarok is a powerful music player for Linux and Unix, MacOS X and Windows with an intuitive interface.

So if you still want to ask why Linux distros shouldn't be considered as different operating systems (such as Windows or OSX), there's your answer.

Even if Android technically runs on top of Linux, Linux itself is a brand, just like Android or iOS. So you can't claim that all Linux distros are exempt from not needing a unified app store, because after all... they're Linux distros, just like roms that run on Android are Android roms.

On one hand, you're right when you say many products (such as TomTom or Garmin) run on the Linux kernel and are really different entities. But the 'marketing' for most (if not all) of these Linux distros clearly identify themselves as either being Linux or Linux-based, so why would it be wrong for someone to assume that all Linux-based distros should be able to use the same app store/repository, if we also assume that different variants of Android do?

Edited 2011-05-16 02:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:

And this list is not even including ROMs for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). I have installed many of these roms, and some of them are as different as many Linux distros are from each other. So you can't on one hand claim that Android is like a single distro that all roms run on, and then on the other hand say that all Linux distros are like operating systems, and should be considered completely separate from each other.

This may have been my mistake for not being clear. I made the assumtion, given the talk about Android and major Linux distributions in relation to the repository software distribution model, that we where talking about Android firmware that actually ships on production devices not enthusiast community custom firmware. My bad.

Now, I think it's fantastic that the Hacker communtiy is producing custom firmware. For lack of ability to work with the core distribution, they've forked it into one-off distributions. You haven't added anything new here. They are indeed child forks; still no different from other Linux based distrubtions:

- They are based on Google's parent distribution not provided by Google as official flavors of the official Android distro. They are analogous to Mint derived from Ubuntu not Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu which are all official Canonical produced flavors of the same overall Distribution.

- They do not get updates from Google's distribution. When a new version of Android is released, one is going to have to wait until the third party Hacker releases an updated custom firmware based on the newer official Android version.

- Google does not have ownership and decision making authority over those child forks and can not be held accountable for there risks or benefits. The third party Hackers producing them do not have ownership or decision making authority over the parent distribution and can only react after the fact to changes in the parent distribution.

- You can't install that Incredible custom firmware on other devices. It's still a one-off device specific distribution. You can't pop it onto any "Android" branded device and have it work now can you?

The benefit that they have is being produced out of the motivation to enable the end user rather than further a retail business strategy. When the device manufacturers ship a one-off child fork, they do so under the claim of "differentiation"; give it a different cosmetic look, include "value add" crapware, include custom functionality which is often user hostile "to protect the children" such as my previous mention of Motorola's logic bomb designed to brick the phone if the owner tries to install a custom firmware.

Because the primary design purpose of Android is to provide a sandbox for running java applets, the child forks tend to retain that ability and provided the enthusiast child forks don't break compatability; fair enough. Let the Hacker community have at it and do what they do best.

(to be clear; using "Hacker" in the correct sense not the mass media "inherently criminal" bullshit sense.)

If you go to the website of an Android app, it will say that 'this is an Android app'. If you go to a website of a Linux app, it will say 'this is a Linux app'. It doesn't say 'this is a Fedora app' or this is a Ubuntu app'. To further illustrate my example, consider Amarok:

Android and it's child forks are still primarily designed to provide the java sandbox with the intent of running Android branded apps. Not all Android apps run across all Android child forks though now do they. Sure, it'll say "this is an Android app" but it may also say "you need a newer version of Android" or "this app does not install and run on this device". The hardware and child fork that your isntalling the app on still makes a difference. I do hope that changes much more with the release of Ice Cream under the new consortium agreement.

Your Amarok example points to a program developed for multiple OS. They provide a Windows version, they provide an osX version and they work with Linux based distributions so that each can also include a version. You wanted to point at the website so let's actually look at the relevant page shall we?

"Linux Distributions, BSDs and other Unixes"
(k)ubuntu - one distro, two flavors, one distro, packaged in it's repositories
openSUSE - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Fedora - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Debian - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Mandriva - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Gentoo - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Arch - one distro, packaged in it's repositories (sensing a theme yet?)
Ark - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Pardus - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
NetBSD - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Exherbo - one distro, packaged in it's repositories
Chakra - one distro, packaged in it's repositories

All seporate products, all provide a product specific pacakge in there repositories. Fedora is not going to be responsible for Debian's package and Debian is not responsible for Fedora's. Notice that they are all represented as seporate things to even though they share a common kernel name.

under "Other (FreeBSD, Solaris, etc.)"
FreeBSD - not packaged by Amarok but available in Ports
KateOS - not packaged by Amarok but available in distro repositories
Weasel - not packaged by Amarok but available in distro repositories
PCLinuxOS - not packaged by Amarok but available in distro repositories
Solaris 10 - not packaged by Amarok but can be compiled for Solaris from source code
Yoper - not packaged by Amarok, looks like it also can be compiled from source

"Other operating systems (not yet officially supported)"
Mac OS - again, it's in the Ports system not an officially packaged app download
Windows - no official package yet but it looks like has provided a few unofficial Windows builds

Thanks to Amarok being an open source product, it's easily available to whatever distribution (the product level the end user will interact with) chooses to include it and many do as demonstrated by the downloads directions for each on the page you singled out.

So you've successfully pointed out that Amarok, common to open source development values, is easily made available for many different OS distributions including several that happen to use the same OS kernel. That doesn't change the fact that (k)ubuntu and openSUSE are seporate products provided by seporate manufacturers though they happen to be assembled from similar commodity parts and happen to be in the same product category (desktop software platforms.. encase that wasn't clear). Canonical does not have authority over or responsability for openSUSE any more than the folks at openSUSE have authority over or are responsible for Canonical's distributions.

Again.. Ford and Toyota both produce products in the automobile category and both happen to include a combustion engine and lots of bolts among the other commodity parts in the assembly. They even provide a similar user interface and retain interoperability with the roads thanks to respectd industry interface standards. They are not the same product though. They are not both "engines" just because they both happen to be based around a combusion ention now are they?

Reply Parent Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:

Now, as for the "for Linux" marketing represntation by indavidual programs. Marketing is all about the ten second catchy sound bite not accuracy.

I've frequently pointed out that "for Linux based systems" or "for Linux based distributions" would be more accurate and just as sesynct since listing seven major distribution names in each marketing line would get tired quickly. You may also notice that it's extremely rare for me to say "Linux" alone when not talking about the kernel specifically and "Linux based distros" when talking about things that are actually common across multiple distributions; specific distribution names when talking about specific distributions. Typing "Linux based distributions" takes a half second longer to type but:

- it provides clarity by indicating that there is more than one seporate product which happens to use the Linux kernel when talking to new or less knowledable users. These seporate products may be interoperable and familiar from one to the other but they are destinctly seporate objects from seporate providers.

- it provides clarity by specifying what distribution is affected when talking about a bug, resulting vulnerability, specific program or other attribute related to a specific distribution. Canonical's configuration choices do not affect Debian or Red Hat so it's an attribute of Ubuntu not an attribute of Debian Stable or RHEL.

In short, it cuts through the bullshit of intentionally confusing seporate products into a single thing which really only benefits people more interested in disparaging what they don't like rather than discussing actual technological attributes it.

Now, where it does make sense to intentionally talk about "Linux" instead of specific distributions or "Linux based distributions" indicating the greater family of seporate products:

- when discussing kernel bugs or vulns that indeed affect a majority of distributions by result of that shared kernel version

- when discussing drivers which are included into the kernel as modules. Yes, hardware can be "Linux ready" because it's using industry standards, already provided a driver through or provides a third party kernel module for installation.

To get back to your specific given example; do you really think the majority of average users start from and work there way backwards into installing it? I honestly don't. My experience has been that most average users find Amarok or some other media manager installed by default and stick with it (ie. "don't want to think. Want vendor to make the choice for them" in your words). If not installed by default, most average users would find it in the package manager and install it from there. They may see it mentioned on chat forums or when talking to friends with "so, how do I install this?" followed by "check your add/remove software" or a specific simple command for the package manager. Heck, I'm an advanced user who infact chooses to install Amarok and this is the first time I've ever had reason to visit the Amarok webpage rather than simply pull it from my distribution's repository.

Generally, confusion over software and installation comes from this "Linux is all one product" crap that does not reflect reality (and fair enough for those who didn't know and are open to considering clarification; a more clear understanding is possible for them) and, users coming from a Windows background who have only ever seen software provided seporately from the Windows distribution. For them, again, clarity is possible; point them to the GUI package manager, let them use the browse or search functinos and it usually ends with "really, it's that easy.. and all this software is just there available for me to use?"

Lumping anyting that happens to use the Linux kernel together to misrepresent it as a single product from a single vendor supports someone's personal agenda and usually one based on bias except in the rare cases where the focus onf the topic actually applies across the majority of Linux based products in a category. Recognizing the difference between distributions when talking about seporate distributions regardless of what kernel they may or may not use supports clarity and understanding of the topic giving a solid basis for productive discussion.

Yet still, I don't get what this discussion of branding, marketing language and Android versus other Linux based distro stuff has to do with the original topic regarding benefits of a repository distribution model and that the "app store" is clearly just a branded repository system. It's not about proving general purpose Linux based distributions better or worse than the Android distribution. My only reason for mentioning it originally was to clarify that repositories are distribution specific and often one of many differentiating attributes of a given distribution along with pointing out that one organization does not have control over how another seporate organization chooses to manage it's repositories.

At this point, I really don't expect you to change your opinion and I don't see evidence to the contrary of my opinion so it seems we're at an empass and should agree to disagree. Hopefully reading through both sides of the thread allows other's to make a more informed decision about there own opinions and understanding of the topics.

Reply Parent Score: 3