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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:

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.

My experience is having used several Linux distros in the past, and browsing through package managers with about 9,000,000 different apps, seeming to have every Linux app on the planet available..... except the one I happened to be looking for at that particular time. Then it's a matter of either having to beg the distro gods to add that particular app to the repository, or doing configure/make/make install and hoping it would work (which I usually had about a 50% success rate with).

I say no thanks. If somebody recommends a Linux app that is not in my distro repository (or it's several versions behind), you may call that market differentiation, but I call it fragmentation. Of course, I could go hunting for alternate apt sources or whatever, but hey... I'm not in high school anymore and don't have the time (or patience) for that shit. This is also why I don't screw with custom roms or bloatware anymore in Android. From now on, it's only Nexus phones for me. If Linux had a 'Nexus' distro, where hardware vendors and app developers who support Linux all used as a reference, I might be tempted to try it, but it doesn't.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:

I've yet to find any OS that does everything. It just depends on what type of grief your willing to accept in exchange for the distro specific benefits.

If somebody recommends a Linux app that is not in my distro repository (or it's several versions behind), you may call that market differentiation, but I call it fragmentation.

If the local Italian eatery doesn't serve Chinese food then it must be fragmentation of the resteraunt industry. The Italian and Chinese resteraunts should all merge into one mega-corporation owned by Toco Bell. It's the only way to solve the scourge of fragmentation and strife of choosing where to eat dinner tonight!

If the app is not in your distribution's repository but is in another's then that would seem to differentiate the two products based on what component parts they include. I'm pretty sure the VW Bug and Ford F150 don't include all the same component parts yet we don't claim that the auto industry is fragmented as a result. Turns out we simply choose the vehicle that better fits our needs.

Reply Parent Score: 2