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Linspire's CNR Goes Multi-Distro 171

Posted by kdawson
from the embrace-and-extend dept.
S3Indiana writes with news that Linspire is opening its Click 'N Run installation software to other Linux distributions. After 5 years of development on CNR, the new site cnr.com will be a single source repository for Linux users. Distributions to be supported initially during 2007 are (alphabetically): Debian, Fedora, Freespire, Linspire, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu; other distributions will follow. See the FAQ and the screenshots for more details.
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Linspire's CNR Goes Multi-Distro

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  • Now if only they could create a similar system for some variants of the BSD operating system, I would be in heaven =)

    --
    WiFizzle Software Research [wi-fizzle.com]
  • Don't those distro's already have their own repository systems?

    What does cnr do that I cant do with apt-get?
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Nothing. And probably nothing I can't do with yum either. But I doubt it is aimed at the demographic of Linux users within which we fall. I'm not against paying for software however.
      • I'm surpised no one has mentioned gnome-app-install. At least from Ubuntu Edgy (and I'm pretty sure Dapper too), I can select "Add/Remove Software..." from the main menu, and it pretty much is a one-step process to getting the software installed. Pretty nice menu, see other users' ratings, navigate categories: it has everything but screenshots (which I think would be a nice addition, by the way).

        The only potentially confusing part is that it offers you KDE apps for install, which means (if you're running
    • Re:Repositories? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rovingeyes (575063) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:03PM (#17728530)
      Buy software. Look at the screenshots.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:04PM (#17728550)
      What does cnr do that I cant do with apt-get?

      If only there were some sort of "linked article" that explained that!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by suckmysav (763172)
        Linked article? I thought this was slashdot? Who reads articles here?

        Besides, if I read the article I would have no chance of attaining that most vaunted /. status symbol, the fristy posty.

        Unfortunately I did fail at that, oh well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rrohbeck (944847)
        Obligatory...

        What does cnr do that I cant do with apt-get?

        If only there were some sort of "linked article" that explained that!
        You must be new here.
    • The advantage of CNR over apt-get is that it's not apt-get.

      In all seriousness, that's pretty much the crux of it. From TFA:
      One of the biggest complaints I hear from MS Windows and Mac users about Linux, is that there are too many distributions, each with their own installation system. Desktop Linux isn't like MS Windows or Mac, where you can simply go hunting on the Internet (or at your local computer store), find a piece of interesting software, and quickly install it. With desktop Linux, you must first find the program, if it's even supported to begin with, then hope they've provided the right files and installation process for "your" particular Linux distribution. (.deb files, .rpm files, .tar.gz files etc.) It's all far too complicated for the average person, and it's no wonder they shy away from Linux. ... When we started Linspire, we knew that we'd need to overcome this complexity. This led to Linspire's CNR ("Click 'N Run") technology. CNR does dozens of things to make finding, installing and managing software on your desktop computer extremely easy. CNR makes finding the right piece of software easy with user reviews, charts, screenshots, descriptions, friendly names, and so on. Once you've found what you're looking for, with literally one click, the software is installed to your computer and icons added to your desktop and Launch Menu. CNR then notifies you when updates are available, which you can then install with one click."
      Basically, their problem with apt-get is that the tools are harder to use, and that it's distro specific. Their aim, if I'm understanding it right, is to offer one tool that would be the same across distributions, offer the same software to each, and be extremely easy to use. In short, rather than each distro having its own package management system, they could all use CNR and appear the same to the casual user.

      If you use apt-get, you probably aren't going to be interested in CNR, or really anything that Linspire is doing, frankly. But I think there are a lot of people not using Linux right now, and who are confused by the differences between distributions (not to mention the very concept of distributions in general) who would probably be receptive to the idea of a standard packaging/installation system that was distribution-agnostic.
      • by zurtle (785688) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:51PM (#17729154) Homepage
        Hear, hear!

        I would consider myself an above-average user, but when I go to install something that's outside the scope of my repositories and get shot down by the dependency failures... that's when I get a little peeved.

        If Linux standardised, I'd be sure to recommend it to my friends and family. Even the dumbest "For Dummies" distros aren't simple enough for Joe Bloggers to use.

        • by dave562 (969951) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @06:03PM (#17729304) Journal
          Anything that "deflavorizes" Linux is a good thing for those who want to see a Linux desktop become standard. Right now there are simply too many different ways to install software depending on what flavor of the OS you happen to be using. The big thing that keeps the Windows monopoly chugging merrily along is the fact that when software is "Compatible with Windows 2000/XP", the consumer knows that they are getting a program that will work with their OS. Linux really needs to offer that same functionality if the OS is ever going to be considered by OEMs. An OS is worthless without applications.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bnenning (58349)
          when I go to install something that's outside the scope of my repositories and get shot down by the dependency failures... that's when I get a little peeved.

          Ditto. This is IMO one of the biggest weakness of Linux, and conversely Mac OS X's single-file .app format is one of its biggest advantages. It's odd and annoying that the "open" system only works well if you stick with centralized repositories, while the "closed" system is just fine running lots of third-party apps from multiple sources.
          • by alienmole (15522) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:20PM (#17731550)
            Ditto. This is IMO one of the biggest weakness of Linux, and conversely Mac OS X's single-file .app format is one of its biggest advantages. It's odd and annoying that the "open" system only works well if you stick with centralized repositories, while the "closed" system is just fine running lots of third-party apps from multiple sources.

            That's a strange way to put it. There's only one OSX. Naturally applications written for OSX will run on OSX. Applications written for Debian Linux will run on Debian Linux, too. But there are many Linuxes, each with different versions of the basic components, and different goals and development teams. The open system works just as well as the closed system if you stick to software that's designed for the particular OS you're using. If anything, the Linuxes are far better at running applications written for other operating systems, than either Win or Mac OS are.

            That's not to discount the fact that the lack of a single distribution with Microsoft-level relative dominance is a problem for Linux. But it should be recognized that that's the issue. The choice is mainly one between quasi-monopoly and competition. The Linux situation can be improved, but as long as there are multiple popular distributions, it's never going to be as simple as it is with a tightly-controlled single OS from a single vendor.

            • by dbcad7 (771464)
              mixing repos is kinda like taking different versions of the same operating system and willy nilly choosing a file from this version and a file from that version.. it might work, probably will work.. but you get what you get when it doesn't.
        • I would consider myself an above-average user, but when I go to install something that's outside the scope of my repositories and get shot down by the dependency failures... that's when I get a little peeved.

          If Linux standardised, I'd be sure to recommend it to my friends and family. Even the dumbest "For Dummies" distros aren't simple enough for Joe Bloggers to use.

          That's a good thing about CNR, you don't have to worry about any dependencies. CNR does it all for you.

          Falcon

      • by jesterzog (189797) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @06:45PM (#17729872) Homepage Journal

        As you quoted from the article:

        Desktop Linux isn't like MS Windows or Mac, where you can simply go hunting on the Internet (or at your local computer store), find a piece of interesting software, and quickly install it. With desktop Linux, you must first find the program, if it's even supported to begin with, then hope they've provided the right files and installation process for "your" particular Linux distribution. (.deb files, .rpm files, .tar.gz files etc.) It's all far too complicated for the average person, and it's no wonder they shy away from Linux.

        I hear this argument a lot, and if it's a concern then I guess it makes sense to try and address it, whether it's by trying to improve what's offered, or by trying to educate people about alternative ways to do things. I don't really understand it, though, and to be honest, the huge amount of packages that actually are in a distribution archive (esp. Debian, which I use), is one of the big reasons I prefer to use open source instead of closed source. (I'm sure there's a certain amount of me just being used to it, too.)

        I think people often look at things the wrong way when trying to compare Windows with Linux distros, because they work fundamentally differently. The reason there are different installer types is that they're different systems, and the installers and packages are made to match the system. (Granted this doesn't mean it couldn't be improved and made more compatible.) Windows shouldn't be compared with Linux, it should be compared with RedHat, or Ubuntu, or Gentoo, or whatever, because the distributions are what operate at the same level as Windows. The fact that they use similar or identical apps and are often compatible with each other just makes Windows stand out because it doesn't.

        I don't see the issues as being as much between Linux and Windows as being between Open Source and Closed Source, because the distribution model is what makes the difference.

        Microsoft strongly encourages third parties to release closed source apps, as they do themselves. As a result, Microsoft doesn't have a lot of control over the app or how it interacts with the OS. Microsoft isn't legally allowed to tinker with third party apps and throw them into a big Windows software repository. There are some weak conventions about how applications should interact with the system, but it all comes down to whether the vendor actually implements these and does it correctly. (eg. Install in the Program Files folder, use a particular structure in the registry to store settings, and so on.) Some apps follow the conventions properly, and some don't. It's entirely up to the vendor. If I download and install a typical third party app for Windows, it's not unusual that it might be unstable, fail to take advantage of and integrate nicely with other apps I have on the system, and so on. It's very unlikely that a Windows installer will go and download dependencies for me -- chances are it'll package them inefficiently and often unnecessarily, or it'll tell me to go and find them manually. And if I try to uninstall it, I'm usually relying entirely on the independent vendor's uninstall scripts to properly remove itself. I don't know about other people, but personally I've found that they often leave a lot of residue lying around. (Old folders and files, registry entries, broken links and icons, obsolete dll's, etc.)

        OSS distribution maintainers, on the other hand, have every right to tinker with the software before they put it in their repository. I know that if I apt-get install something from Debian, it's likely to work with whatever else I have, because Debian's package maintenance team has made sure that the package strictly adheres to all of Debian's policies. I'm not just getting the app, I'm getting a guarantee that it's been tuned to work nicely on my system. Of course, if I don't want that, I can still download the app indepen

        • MSIs, which more and more things rely on now that it's in pretty much every system out there, looks after dependencies for you. Take a look here [microsoft.com] for the quick-start guide.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jesterzog (189797)

            Thanks for the link. I've tried to make MSI's from time to time, although only simple ones, and I'm still figuring it out. The main point I was trying to make, though, was that installers for most Windows apps come directly from a third party vendor. There's a lot of depending on third parties to get the installation scripts right, even though there might be conflicting commercial interests, or just general laziness to provide a good (un)installer.

            I've had problems using MSI's in the past. I think it's

        • by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @08:42PM (#17731206)
          While you're absolutely right that it's nice, if not vital, for software to play nice with the system, Linux (the underlying OS) should be responsible for keeping the software from running amok, and the developer pay the penalty when their software doesn't perform the way users expect. It's not the Debian's team job, and it shouldn't be. Distributions are one of the biggest hurdles in Linux adoption - everybody has their way of doing things, and they believe that their way is "right." Unfortunately, projecting one's personal ideas of rightness on others has never been the best formula for making friends.

          Linspire's particular advantage is in believing that "right" is trying to find a way to lure the most users possible to their distro by making it friendly and easy-to-use. Users shouldn't have to worry about dependencies; they shouldn't have to ever even see a message warning them about it, worry about having to resolve it, or worst of all, have a package refuse to install because of "unresolvable conflicts." Solving this involves research, which means time, which means that most people would just as soon spend the money on Windows or OSX and call it good. They work, they rarely tell you that you're missing something, and if they are, they usually provide an easy path towards finding the software you need, which also usually installs without complaint.

          Sure, a high-end user may want the option to continue using a particular version of a particular library, and damn the dependencies. That's what "more options" and "advanced" buttons are for. You need to build in user-selectable levels of complexity, rather than having the system dictate terms.
          • by jesterzog (189797)

            Linux (the underlying OS) should be responsible for keeping the software from running amok, and the developer pay the penalty when their software doesn't perform the way users expect. It's not the Debian's team job, and it shouldn't be.

            Okay, I agree that it's not the distribution maintainters' job to keep the application from running amok on the system, although in Debian at least, it wouldn't be unusual for the package maintainer to temporarly fix a bug themselves while they're waiting for a more offici

      • by Kjella (173770)
        Basically, their problem with apt-get is that the tools are harder to use, and that it's distro specific.

        <devil's advocate>So... they're offering a fancier graphical front-end "with user reviews, charts, screenshots, descriptions, friendly names, and so on." and the other reason is no argument for CNR, it's just saying "it would be nice if they all used the same" but that argument works just as well if "same" is apt-get, klik or any other system. Does it solve any of the hard problems well, like confl
        • dependencies and CNR (Score:3, Informative)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          Does it solve any of the hard problems well, like conflicting dependencies on libraries, circular dependencies (that is, several packages must be upgraded together or not at all like a transaction), packages from other sources?

          Yes, CNR checks for dependencies. If one is missing CNR will install it, and though I don't know how they do it CNR also checks for conflicts in dependencies.

          Besides, they seem to easily ignore that most apps are installed with "apt-get install [name]" or similar one-click in a

      • by Fordiman (689627)
        Now how does this apply with Ubuntu? There's quite literally a 'Find new applications' button.
        • by Kadin2048 (468275)
          Now how does this apply with Ubuntu? There's quite literally a 'Find new applications' button.

          I see it as basically parallel to Ubuntu's apt-get GUI wrapper. They're both trying to do the same thing, namely make software installation easier. It's just the Ubuntu took apt-get and wrapped it in a GUI, while Linspire took their repository system (which also includes commercial and non-free software that you can purchase, apparently) and did much the same thing.

          That you can get commercial software via CNR, whil
    • For you, probably nothing. For noobs that like to see a pretty "web-2.0" interface to everything they do with a computer, it's "OMG, just what Linux needs to succeed on the desktop!".

      Actually, joking aside, I think they offer some things, like "legal" DVD playing software (for money) that you can't get on the usual repositories. For someone who is familiar with apt-get/synaptic and has no problem with libdcss, or liblame, I don't think CNR has anything to offer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ElleyKitten (715519)
      What does cnr do that I cant do with apt-get?
      Not make your mom's head explode when you show her Linux? At least it sounds like their goal is to make Linux more user-friendly. Also, it means that if a commercial software developer wants to make a program for Linux, they can just dump it to CNR instead of making a .deb, a .rpm, a .tar.gz, etc, and hope Linux users show up to their website.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by powerlord (28156)

        Not make your mom's head explode when you show her Linux? At least it sounds like their goal is to make Linux more user-friendly. Also, it means that if a commercial software developer wants to make a program for Linux, they can just dump it to CNR instead of making a .deb, a .rpm, a .tar.gz, etc, and hope Linux users show up to their website.

        Exactly. This could be huge for lowering the barrier for installing programs (both on a technical level, and across flavors). A few more announcements along these lin

        • by b100dian (771163)

          they can just dump it to CNR instead of making a .deb, a .rpm, a .tar.gz etc.


          I haven't quite get it, but doesn't CNR hold debs, rpms, tgz etc?

          So "dumping to CNR" is nothing but building 10 packages for the ten disto versions?
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      What does cnr do that I cant do with apt-get?

      What does CnR do that YOU can't do with apt-get? Probably nothing, but you are asking the wrong question. The correct question is:

      What does CnR do that my grandmother can't do with apt-get?

      I used Linspire back when it was called Lindows. CnR was by far the easiest installation system I had used to that point and is still the easiest software management system that I've used to date. Not that apt-get (with synaptics), rpm (with yum), and even emerge (with Kuro
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        "What does CnR do that my grandmother can't do with apt-get?"

        Answer: Nothing that she can't do with Syanptic.

        Seriously. I stopped using apt-get directly years ago.
    • by rumith (983060) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:12PM (#17728682)
      Here's what ESR has to say about it (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/world-domination/wo rld-domination-201.html [catb.org]):

      Can Linspire save us? In late July 2006, one of us (Raymond) went public on a panel at at OSCON 2006 with the argument of the previous section. Just minutes later, he was contacted by Kevin Carmony, the CEO of Linux distributor Linspire. Mr. Carmony expressed stong support for our conclusions and a direct interest in addressing the problem. Linspire, as it turns out, is in a unique position. They are the only company with the legal right to ship Linux ports of Windows Media Format codecs, including QuickTime capability. They extracted this concession as part of the settlement of their successful trademark lawsuit against Microsoft. In August 2006, as a result of having shown a draft of this paper to Kevin Carmony, we were directly involved in the planning for a Linspire product with all the characteristics we have been describing. Linspire wants to be "Streaming Penguin" in the hopeful scenario we described above. They even adopted our proposed name for the product: the Codex. As a result, Eric Raymond joined the Freespire Advisery Board. Freespire is the community development project associated with the Linspire system; its relationship with Linspire is analogous to that between the Fedora project and Red Hat. Linspire may in fact be able to solve our multimedia problem. They deserve the community's support and encouragement for trying.
      That alone would be a huge step forward. And according to the CNR site, they ARE going to provide them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by powerlord (28156)
      Yes. Each ditro has its own repositories with their own way of doing things. This isn't so bad for a technical user, but once you loose a bit of technical expertise your user base can be confused between distros, and with keeping things straight. For your average Mom and Pop (Jane and Joe Sixpack?) using apt-get, or rpm, can be almost as bad as compiling from source.

      This seems to be the equivalent of Perl's CPAN for Linux, combined with Download.com (for ratings and reviews), with a pretty GUI thrown on
    • Buy commercial software. I wonder how well Loki would have done had they launched today rather than when they did.


      --
      Evan

    • apt-get won't let you purchase, download, and install a US-legal DVD player, legal MP3 player, legal Windows Media Player, and so on. Linspire has paid royalties to the owners of these technologies so you can legally use CNR to install this proprietary software on Linux. You can also use it to purchase/download/install other Crossover/Cedega/Win32 software like World of Warcraft, Quicken, etc.

      Sure, you can use EasyUbuntu [freecontrib.org] and get a lot of that stuff illegally for free, but because CNR is legal, it's actual
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by darkwind_2427 (964372)
      You can get Linspire DVD Player [linspire.com] which will *legally* allow you to watch encoded DVDs in linux.
    • by jonbryce (703250)
      Basically, you look round a website at all the programs available, read the descriptions and screenshots, and decide which one is best for you. Then you click on an install button, it it automagically installs it for you.

      You could look round freshmeat or whatever to find your program, then search for it on rpmfind.net or apt-get.org or similar to get the package for your distro, then use urpmi or apt-get or whatever to install it. This just makes the process a lot easier, and it still uses your distro's r
  • by sdaemon (25357) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:00PM (#17728478)
    I welcome a new contender to the realm of *nix package management/software installation systems. If it *works*, I might use it.

    But *works* should include the following:

    - installs new software correctly, in default and custom locations
    - uninstalls old software correctly
    - updates old to new software correctly
    - is aware of and can work with custom-installed libraries and dependencies (i.e. EVERYTHING doesn't have to be installed using this system, some stuff can be compiled from source or downloaded from third party).
    - is scriptable through some command-line interface
    - isn't a pain in the neck

    As far as I know, none of the software installation systems out there for any platform meet all of the above requirements. InstallShield for MS systems probably comes closest, but is definitely not perfect (nor even "good enough" imho). Until something comes out that I consider "good enough", I'll keep hand-rolling, thanks.

    $.02 from an old slackware user.
    • A Slackware user, eh?

      Have you actually ever seriously used any of the full Linux package systems? Apt, Yum, or the Gentoo thing? All three work fine, and meet all the reasonable requirements that a packaging system should meet.

      Your two requirements that were obviously inserted to disqualify Apt / Yum (the Gentoo system is another issue) are really unnecessary - there's rarely a reason to install software in weird locations by hand and if you're going to resort to that you should understand the package sys

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kripkenstein (913150)

      If it *works*, I might use it.

      But *works* should include the following:

      - installs new software correctly, in default and custom locations
      - uninstalls old software correctly
      - updates old to new software correctly
      [...]

      Most Linux distros already have package management that does all of the things you mention. This is in fact one of the major benefits of using Linux over Windows. Apt-get (for example) works like a charm, assuming what you want is in the repos (and in Debian, it generally is). I guess

      • and for the less tech savvy, Ubuntu has a nice Add/Remove programs menu item that handles everything in the repository. And if you get a foreign debian package gdebi will do the work that apt-get does when you click on it, resolving dependencies. That seems to handle most of the stuff from both CNR and InstallShield (though a real installshield lookalike is probably autopackage). The difference between CNR and Distro-specific packaging system is that CNR makes available (for a fee) binary-only commercia
    • by bill_kress (99356) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:32PM (#17728902)
      CNR works fantastically. Perhaps you don't need to use it.

      The biggest points are:
      - You can't specify where to put files
      - You can't specify the menu structure (The menu structure matches the CNR store exactly, making it easy to find stuff)
      - It's trivial to use.

      It MUST NOT have options like a CLI or flexibility.

      Currently it is extremely easy to use for non-Linux people, in fact it's easier than getting software onto a PC.

      With your requirements, I suggest another piece of software.

      Isn't it acceptable that different programs handle different needs for different groups of people? Must you really break something for me so that it works like you want?

      Please, just accept it the way it is and say, it my be great for you but not me!

      If you see CNR as just another entry into the package management/software instillation, you don't get it--please keep quiet and don't ask them to change software that is perfectly suited for others.
      • by kv9 (697238)

        It MUST NOT have options like a CLI or flexibility.

        yes, dumb it down as much as you can. a bit more and it's gonna be like Windows. "easy to use" and "fool proof". can hardly wait for the "Linux Kernel Internals" audiobook.

        *sigh*

    • by Coryoth (254751)
      Interestingly I think Autopackage [autopackage.org] meets most of your requirements pretty well.

      installs new software correctly, in default and custom locations

      Autopackage certainly installs stuff correctly and uses default locations. Moreover it support use of --prefix=/path to specify custom locations. Of course if the maker of the software hardcodes paths and such like then there's not much you can do for relocatability - that's not something packaging is ever going to be able to fix though. Custom locations are fully sup

    • by Hatta (162192)
      As far as I know, none of the software installation systems out there for any platform meet all of the above requirements.

      Which requirements does APT fail on?

      - installs new software correctly, in default and custom locations

      Works there, check the --instdir flag to dpkg for installing in custom locations.

      - uninstalls old software correctly
      - updates old to new software correctly


      Both of those work great.

      - is aware of and can work with custom-installed libraries and dependencies (i.e. EVERYTHING doesn't have t
    • by tajmorton (806296)

      You may want to check out Autopackage [autopackage.org].

      - installs new software correctly, in default and custom locations - Check Use --prefix to choose your own location

      - uninstalls old software correctly - Check Doesn't everything do this?

      - updates old to new software correctly - Sorta It will upgrade properly if you download the new package file. It doesn't yet automatically update, but it's planned.

      - is aware of and can work with custom-installed libraries and dependencies (i.e. EVERYTHING doesn't have to be instal

  • Especially if they set up a system where individuals can build CnR packages and support them so that the repository can quickly and easily be built up. There is nothing wrong with making things easier for Joe Blow.

  • by aarku (151823) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:07PM (#17728602) Journal
    All I want is to be able to install applications on my GNU/Linux in a similar way as I do on Mac OS X. I want a self contained .app bundle type system. I don't want installer programs in the form of CNR, apt-get, portage, or "./configure && make && sudo make install". Is there a distro out there that can do that?
    • by AlXtreme (223728) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:22PM (#17728798) Homepage Journal
      Klik [atekon.de] is more-or-less what you're asking for. I also suspect that it is one of the reasons why CNR is going multi-distro...
    • So you want Java .jar 's..

      Well, the kernel does support them as a native data type, and a java interpreter isnt that bad on performance. What you'd lose is the multiuser aspect that is kept true with Linux.

      Now, if you disjoin the configs properly to ~ directories, you'd have a good chance... but then it's still java. Do you want library reuse, or simple "big packs of complete software"? If you were to go this route, you might as well just use fat binaries.
      • by bnenning (58349)
        So you want Java .jar 's..

        No, OS X .apps. The concept is similar, but there's no need to limit it to a particular language or platform.

        Do you want library reuse, or simple "big packs of complete software"?

        As an end user, absolutely the latter. If I have an app on one computer, I should be able to copy a single file (or in the case of OS X, what appears as a single file) to another machine and be able to run it. I shouldn't have to worry that a third-party app I downloaded will break the dependencies of exis
        • ---As an end user, absolutely the latter.

          I'd tend to agree, but what happens when you have somebody else that would like to use the computer? Pretty much all OSes are now multi-user.

          ---If I have an app on one computer, I should be able to copy a single file (or in the case of OS X, what appears as a single file) to another machine and be able to run it.

          Hence my questioning of bringing back fat binaries... That would be one way to go about that kind of compatability.

          ---I shouldn't have to worry that a third-
          • by bnenning (58349)
            Yes, space stored on the hard disk is insignificant, but those very libraries will have to be loaded into ram.

            That's a good point. OS X mostly avoids this problem by having a fairly large collection of libraries whose presence can be assumed. That may not work as well for Linux, but ideally there would be a way for the OS to detect when identical libraries are being loaded and only keep one copy in memory. (Not being a kernel hacker I have no idea if that's feasible).
          • by tepples (727027)

            I'd tend to agree [with a packaging mechanism similar to Mac OS X .app], but what happens when you have somebody else that would like to use the computer?

            Then a user with sudo rights drags the app's icon into a folder named something like "Applications for All Users" and authenticates herself.

            Hence my questioning of bringing back fat binaries

            Apple brought fat binaries back when it moved to Intel CPUs.

            Yes, space stored on the hard disk is insignificant, but those very libraries will have to be loaded into ram. I'd much rather have a global base library that many apps use than a individual library for each app. For example, witness the amount of ram used when you have to load a GTK app within KDE.. Not pretty, not pretty at all.

            The most common libraries should of course be distributed separately as what Mac OS X calls "frameworks". More obscure libraries should be included as part of the application.

    • by ElleyKitten (715519) <.kittensunrise. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:28PM (#17728850) Journal
      All I want is to be able to install applications on my GNU/Linux in a similar way as I do on Mac OS X. I want a self contained .app bundle type system. I don't want installer programs in the form of CNR, apt-get, portage, or "./configure && make && sudo make install". Is there a distro out there that can do that?
      The plus about apt-get, CNR, etc, is that they get the application for you. If you want to install some wierd program for Mac you hear of, you have to track down their website and download the installer, making sure its the right version. If I want to install some wierd program for Ubuntu, I just type "sudo apt-get install wierd_program" and a couple minutes later, with no further action from me, it's in my applications menu. In fact, if I need to install a number of programs (let's say I just reinstalled the OS, or something) I just need to type out all their names, and no more interaction from me. No hunting down a dozen websites and downloading a dozen programs, just type the names. Also, if I don't know the name of a program, I just need, say, a good html editor, then I just open Synaptic (or now CNR), click "search" and type "html editor" and I get a list of all the html editors I can install. With Mac, I guess you'd have to hunt around google for that list, and then hunt around for the websites. I guess that doesn't really answer your question, but I guess my question is why don't you like apt-get and other package managers?
      • by Senjutsu (614542) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:56PM (#17729234)

        The plus about apt-get, CNR, etc, is that they get the application for you.
        The minus about these programs is, they want to get the application for you. You're in some forum or something, somebody talks about a useful piece of software, links the site. It's cross-platform, all your Windows and Mac OS X compatriots click the link and have it downloading in 10 seconds. You on the other hand have to fire up $DISTRO_APP to install it.

        Only it's one of those unlucky pieces of software that isn't in the repository because of some dumbass nerd licensing pissing contest. So you google around some and find out that some guy is running an unofficial repository that contains it, and you only have to alter a couple of files to include the repository address. And then you can install it! Easy!

        Only, half the time some guy's repository's latest version is three months out of date because some guy has a life, so now you're downloading the source and compiling it yourself. But hey, it's all so easy!!

        The problem with all these programs is that all they do is introduce middle-men. They intermediate and abstract. They get in the way. John just released Foobar 2.1, which fixes a nasty bug you are dealing with. Only that doesn't help you, because you need it in your Distro repository, where Mike maintains it. Only he's too busy arguing arguing with Jack, Sally, and Javier in the Distro dev mailing list about life, liberty and who's more hardcore about the meaning of Free Software. I'll get the new version in 6 weeks, if I'm lucky and Mike doesn't resign in a hissy fit.

        I've been through all this shit as a Linux user, and I got sick of it. Fuck Mike, I like dealing directly with John.
        • by bill_kress (99356) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @06:48PM (#17729924)
          I can see your point of view--for you these download/install apps may not be right.

          Can you not accept that for others, the ability to browse a list of apps, view screen shots, click one and have it installed without knowing anything beyond the GUI is a good thing?

          I don't think you'll find what you want for Linux, and I think that what you are asking for is a little inflexible, I think you'll find that if you start to use apt-get it will solve 95% of your problems, and for the remaining 5% you'll still have to download, uncompress and probably compile to get it to work.

          You'll find your Linux experience much more pleasant if you just accept this rather than expecting Linux to act like a system that has one GUI, runs on only one CPU and only supports a couple version of a single OS at a time (rather than a few versions of 30+++ flavors of OS)

          Or you can do like I do and only use apps that are in the CNR repository--limited but absolutely useful. After a while it hardly even hurts any more.
          • I can see your point of view--for you these download/install apps may not be right. Can you not accept that for others, the ability to browse a list of apps, view screen shots, click one and have it installed without knowing anything beyond the GUI is a good thing?

            I don't see any reason why this an either/or proposition. Why can't Linux or OS X or any OS adopt OpenStep style packages with all the benefits thereof and add in a good package manager with all the benefits that entails? Is their any reason wh

            • by bnenning (58349)
              Is their any reason why Openstep packages can't be distributed by the package manager and extended to contain repository information so that if you get them elsewhere you can still update them, etc?

              None whatsoever [versiontracker.com].
          • by Senjutsu (614542)

            Can you not accept that for others, the ability to browse a list of apps, view screen shots, click one and have it installed without knowing anything beyond the GUI is a good thing?

            So, the Grandparent asks why anyone wouldn't love apt-get et al, I explain my reasons for loathing package managers based on my experiences, and you somehow construe it as a universal condemnation and declaration that no one could ever love it for their own reasons?

            Reading is fundamental, chief. Try it sometime.

        • Apt-get is perfect as long as the app is in the repository. Truecrypt is not. VMware is not. Those are my biggest "gripes," if you can call them that. I can't really fault the makers of free software for not giving me exactly what I want (maybe I could ask for my money back?) but I do wish that the two programs I find most intriguing were available in the otherwise perfect (to me) apt-get system. I've installed Truecrypt a few times from source from directions on the internets, and it works, but it mif
        • by MooUK (905450)
          If only they WOULD release foobar for linux...

          (Yes, I know you were using it as a meta-name. So?)
        • by sgtrock (191182)
          I feel your pain. :) The good news is that things are steadily improving. Most of the large distros are now fully LSB compliant (with the possible exception of preferring .deb instead of .rpm packaging) More and more closed source app developers (and some FOSS ones, too) are designing their apps to the LSB as opposed to specific distributions. This means that installing and running an app compiled for an x86 Linux platform is much, much easier. I'm not saying that things will always be trouble free, ju
      • With Mac, I guess you'd have to hunt around google for that list, and then hunt around for the websites.

        Nah. You'd just go to Version Tracker [versiontracker.com].
      • I guess that doesn't really answer your question, but I guess my question is why don't you like apt-get and other package managers?

        I like apt-get and package managers and more importantly the benefits they bring. I also like OpenStep style packages and the benefits they bring. Despite the fact that no OS now integrates both, they are not mutually exclusive.

      • by aarku (151823)
        The main beef is that I want things to be self-contained. That doesn't mean I only download one file, that means the application for all normal purposes is one file that can be tossed around and thrown out if needed. No dependencies that might get erased, no crap. For most applications the worst left over should be a single preferences file found in one central folder for your user.
    • by MrHanky (141717)
      Do you have a good reason for wanting that, or are you just a fan of drag and drop? With app-folders, the .app file needs to contain all of the non-standard libraries (or worse: have you resolve dependencies manually). It's grossly uneconomical, requires manual upgrading of every separate app, and doesn't work in a free software environment.
      • Do you have a good reason for wanting that, or are you just a fan of drag and drop?

        Drag and drop installation from CDs or whatever is a usability win. Drag and drop un-installation (or the delete key for power users) from anywhere is a usability win. .app packages are portable without an installer. I once saved my company a lot of money by IM'ing an application from my hard drive to a worker in another state. The app was closed, commercial, and no longer distributed, thus would not be in any repositories

      • by bnenning (58349)
        It's grossly uneconomical

        Not really. Library size << HD space.

        requires manual upgrading of every separate app

        Nothing prevents automatic updaters from working with app bundles. If anything, it's easier: just compare the version in the app's meta-information to the version in the repository. No worries about a centralized database being out of sync due to manual installs.

        and doesn't work in a free software environment

        I don't see why not.
    • by vga_init (589198)

      I want a self contained .app bundle type system.

      Really, that's what a package is. What are you asking for exactly? For the vast majority of distros, all you have to do is download the package file and click on it, then it installs itself.

      • by aarku (151823)
        The keywords there are "then it installs itself." A .app is self contained. There is no install. I don't want to run an installer. To uninstall, you get rid of the .app. No risk of deleting dependencies, no libraries floating around your system, no mess. In most cases the worst left over is a single preferences file in your user's preferences folder. On top of that, I can run that .app from a CD, a network drive, a disk image...
    • by Pecisk (688001)
      Believe me, you don't want a stastical lynked myriad of applications. They will be slow as hell.

      And about .app bundles - please, run OS X for some several years and then come back and say something nice about it. I definetly won't. Yes, sometimes it is nice. But it is sometimes. In overall, it doesn't change a bit. Apt-get installs my apps on Ubuntu still faster.
  • Not aimed at us (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:09PM (#17728624) Homepage
    However look at the application list before you dismiss this from the other Linux users you support (parents etc). It includes a lot of name brand software which Ubuntu doesnt.

    I'm happiest supporting people on Ubuntu/Kubuntu because that's what I run. If I can now also give them *easy* access to the software they know by name, without me having to intervene to do the messing around with wine or whatever, this can only be a good thing.
  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poofyhairguy82 (635386) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:10PM (#17728638) Journal
    I glad this finally happened. I never got why Linspire (the company) - which partially relies on Click and Run money to keep the lights on - didn't allow as many distros to use it as possible a long time ago!

    What is consistently one of the biggest gripes about the Linux desktop? I know one I hear and see often is the difficulty of of installing Linux applications when the disto does not provide them. Autopackage has tried its best to cross the gaps, but even its main programmers concede its hard to do all the cross distro work (that is often cleaning up messes) when there is no financial reward to inspire you. Its not exactly exciting and low hanging fruit like a new 3D snow pluggin for Beryl.

    If Linspire does this right then here is the solution for one of the last few big complaints on the Linux desktop- new programs will be easy to install on any distro soon after release. If soon the user does not have to care that they have Ubuntu or Suse when a new Gimp or Crossover Office comes out then the Linux desktop might be ready for a big run. One main problem of course as this is a closed solution to the problem- removing both kinds of free in order to make it happen. Yet users pay for software now on both of the other primary desktop platforms, so I don't think many will care. If this is done through "partnerships" then Linspire might make a large amount of money in this new gatekeeper role while boosting marketshare of the Linux desktop in the hard to get at home market.

    Glad this finally happened. Now the last big problem- the lack of drivers- will be fixed the only way it can be: increased marketshare. We hope...

  • This isn't meant to replace APT or RPM. It runs over them, like Pup or Synaptic. The difference is that CNR is designed for user-friendliness and clarity. If I need, say, an audio sequencer, but I don't know about Audacity, I can search through my repo now and find out about Audacity, read some reviews, look at some screencaps... If the article is accurate about its capabilities, then I see this as good news.
  • There we go.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daishiman (698845) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:56PM (#17729236)

    While this sounds like aimless Linux zealotry, this will probably be another flurry of people who complain needlessly about Linux package management without having bothered to use it or understanding it superiority to any other sort of package management.

    • Every significant distro has an easy-to-use frontend to its package manager. I wonder who actually considers its use to be more difficult than hunting the internet for shareware and crapware until you find the right one.
    • Dependency resolution is not an issue and it hasn't been one for a regular user for looong time. If you're using stuff outside of the package manager repositories then you know what you're doing and you can live with the consequences. I mean, who compiles software in Windows to install it? Have you had to remove esoteric stuff manually after uninstalling something in Linux? I know I've had to clean more than one Registry entry in my Windows install.
    • Most commercial packages run out-of-the box and set themselves up intelligently (read: VmWare, Crossover, Opera).
    • User friendly distros already have double-click installation. Ubuntu has GDebi. I'm sure RPM distros have an equivalent.
    • .tar.gz is used by the 2% of Linux users that want bleeding-edge stuff or want to try what can only be considered "dark magic" by the average user.

    Man, an InstallShield-like installer is a step BACKWARDS for package management! I've had to spend hours and dozens of reboots in Windows getting my software right! It's a task that with aptitude or synaptic gets done in under 20 minutes, no reboot, full use of the machine in the meantime. ISVs should be embracing .deb and .rpm. C'mon, it's not that difficult to learn how to package for 3 or 4 major distros! If you know how to write a Makefile you should know how to package software.

    • by G00F (241765)
      This is slashdot, Linux zealotry doesn't get modded down so why even mention it? it is replies to it that lend to being modded down. But lets take this by a point by point basis

      Every significant distro has an easy-to-use front end to its package manager. I wonder who actually considers its use to be more difficult than hunting the internet for shareware and crapware until you find the right one.

      I would consider it more difficult. Type in "firefox" and you can download the latest firefox in 1 click, do tha
    • yes, I agree that it is useful to be able to simply type something like "yum -y install ysoftware xsoftware etcsoftware" or use a gui frontend, click some checkboxes, and then hit "download & install"

      on the other hand, thats only easy IF you know what the package name is when doing it by cli, or if you are using a gui frontend, finding which of the cryptic names is the one you want. For example, OpenOffice Base isn't included in the default install via yum, and the name can be hard to type out someti
      • The last issue I have with things like yum and apt-get, is "what if you're at the cheapo relative's house who doesn't have a 'net connection" or your's is down?

        Well, the apt "infrastructure" handles local file package repositories as well as network ones, and can allow download packages without installing them, so it should, in theory, be fairly straightforward to extend the GUI tools to give you the ability to click a package on, say, a CD or Flash drive to install it. Of course, you'd need to make sure y

    • by bnenning (58349)
      Dependency resolution is not an issue and it hasn't been one for a regular user for looong time. If you're using stuff outside of the package manager repositories then you know what you're doing and you can live with the consequences.

      Sorry, that's just silly. Linux is supposed to be the open system, but you're telling me that it's normal and expected that my system goes wonky if I try to run anything that hasn't been blessed by a central repository? Not acceptable.

      I know I've had to clean more than one Regi
      • by Pecisk (688001)
        No, they are NOT better. They have very serious shortcommings, like memory leaking like a hell (try Firefox on Mac), problem to launch them anyway (no way you can debug them or find how to fix, which library to replace, etc.), and they are very unstable.

        I would suggest you to work about some few years with Apple computer everyday - with other OSes aviable - and I think you would change your mind. OS X has lot of good things, but .app thingy is double edged sword and sometimes it is sharper on negative side.
  • From the cnr.com FAQ [cnr.com]:

    How does CNR.com works with other Linux Distributions?

    When thinking of mixing your distribution's package management with CNR, does that sentence frighten you like it frightens me?
  • I'm sorry, but if you aren't using your distribution's repositories then you aren't using that distribution. If you are getting all your programs from cnr, you are using the 'cnr' distribution. They seem to want to reassure people by letting them think they are using good branded distros instead of the poor brand linspire.
    • if you aren't using your distribution's repositories then you aren't using that distribution.

      According to TFA, CNR uses the distro's repository. There's a flowchart [cnr.com] which shows CNR merging the standard Ubuntu repository with CNR's repository of Linspire and third-party software, then publishing the whole through CNR. If I'm reading he runes a-right, using CNR to install software that is also available straight from Ubuntu will actually get you the Ubuntu package.

      To put this in perspective, a few years

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