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Novell Linux Business Software

Novell Ponders "Open-Source Apps Store" 183

Posted by timothy
from the return-of-click-n-run dept.
Barence writes "Novell plans to bring the wealth of open-source software to everyday users through an 'open-source apps store.' 'I would compare what's happening on netbooks with what's happening to the smartphone,' Holger Dyroff, vice president of business development at Novell told PC Pro. 'There's a core experience, but then the ability to customise that experience. On the user end, all they'll see is an open-source applications store with one-click downloads of new software. Unlike the other stores though, they won't have to pay for any of those applications, which will be very attractive.'"
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Novell Ponders "Open-Source Apps Store"

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  • So, in other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killmenow (184444) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:01AM (#28265057)
    Kind of like a repository?
  • Apt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:03AM (#28265071) Journal

    How does this differ from any of the GUI front ends available for Debian's apt?

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:17AM (#28265251) Homepage

    The idea of an "app store" has really been copied from the software repositories which have been used on OSS systems for many years...

    An often used argument against Linux, is that users want to go down to and buy boxed software to install... But you can't do that with the iphone, the iphone has a repository where you select software and it gets installed for you, just like linux, and this idea has worked very well. Infact, i would say this method works much better than boxed software from B&M stores...

    Users want to get software as easily (and usually cheaply) as possible, and if they were aware of just how much easier Linux makes it would actually prefer this method and consider it a strength of Linux, not a weakness.

    So what we really need, is education and advertising to show people that Linux does this too, and that it's actually much better than having to fork over cash for physical media and have to install it yourself.

  • Re:Apt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kj_kabaje (1241696) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:23AM (#28265347)
    making FOSS more consumer friendly is not a bad thing. giving people freedom of choice the can understand versus paying for limited choice seems to be pretty good. who cares if it's just a web-based on downloadable interface for apt?
  • Terrible idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:26AM (#28265393) Homepage Journal

    As many people will say it is a just a repository.
    They may add reviews and ratings which will be a good thing but they shouldn't limit it to free as in beer software.
    There is nothing that says you can not sell FOSS if they feel that they must keep it open source. I would open it up to closed source software as well so you can create a real market for Linux software.
    If you have both open and closed source developers you will have MORE software choices. You may have both GIMP and Photoshop Elements. GnuCash and Quicken, and SQLedger and QuickBooks.

    I know the many Linux users find the idea of paying for anything to be evil but if you want more Linux users you need to find a way to get more Linux software.
    One thing I really like about an app store is that it really seems to drive down the price of software. Look on the iPhone App store and you will find a lot of $1.99 to $5 software. Some of it is pretty good. There is also a lot of free as in beer software. It does offer a way for programmers to make money and offers the end user a large selection of software.
    And that is a great way to get more Netbook users happy with Linux and more developers developing for Linux. It could even help FOSS. A lot of professional developers do FOSS on the side. If they can make a living using Linux they will be motivated to do more FOSS projects as well.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:33AM (#28265491) Homepage Journal

    or pkg_add -r for us BSD folks :)

    But, all joking aside, you cant discount making it easy for the common guy with a simple GUI, non technical descriptions, screen shots, etc etc.

    PCBSD's PBI pages are a good example of how things could work

  • by hotchai (72816) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:53AM (#28265749)
    Doc Searls (editor of Linux Journal) is working on such a donation system as part of his "Vendor Relationship Management" or VRM project [harvard.edu] at the Berkman Center at Harvard. The idea is to be able to make small voluntary donations to the software author, or more generally the creator of any piece of work. The goal is make this easy -- simple click of a button that says "donate $5" and put you in control of how much of your personal information (name, credit card details etc.) you want the recipient to know.
  • Re:Apt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Delkster (820935) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @11:18AM (#28266157)

    Also, building a user-friendly store/repository isn't just a technical task. The distinction between a traditional repository and an app store may seem to be a matter of naming, but it really should be also a matter of presentation, and that requires some thoughtful effort.

    For example, it would help browsing if available applications were divided into helpful categories and perhaps sub-categories. Current repositories do of course have categories, but they aren't very helpful to a non-technical user, or even to a technical one: many categories contain so many packages that it makes no sense to browse through them.

    In an app store targeted at a general audience, the categories need to be meaningfully sized and set based on non-technical use cases, not technical needs. Also, descriptions for the applications need to be thought about. gnome-app-install used e.g. by Ubuntu is nicer for the average person than browsing through the entire repository (no libraries etc. that most people wouldn't want to install directly anyway), but the package descriptions could really use some work.

    Example: Person receives a 7z archive and gets a tip that 7zip can be used to open it. Person finds "7zip" in add/remove applications. And what does the description for that have to say? (from Ubuntu 8.04 LTS)

    7z and 7za file archivers with high compression ratio

    p7zip is the Unix port of 7-Zip, a file archiver that archives with very high compression ratios.

    p7zip-full provides:

    • /usr/bin/7za a standalone version of the 7-zip tool that handles 7z archives (implementation of the LZMA compression algorithm) and some other formats.
    • /usr/bin/7z not only does it handle 7z but also ZIP, Zip64, CAB, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, CPIO, RPM, ISO and DEB archives. 7z compression is 30-50% better than ZIP compression.

    p7zip provides 7zr, a light version of 7za, and p7zip a gzip like wrapper around 7zr.

    So, uhm, yeah. That's useful information if you already know that both tools listed above are command line tools and that certain archiving GUIs can also use them if they're installed. Other than that, the person in our examle is left totally in the dark. Is this the application he wants for opening the archive? If it is, how on earth should it be used? (Probably just by double-clicking on the archive, because now the same GUI the person had previously used for zip archives can also open 7z, thanks to the installation of the command-line tool, but that's in no way obvious unless you already knew it.) Perhaps the description in an app store should just say "installing this application will allow you to open and create 7z archives with $standard_archiver_gui." In a repository more likely used by more experienced and technically-minded people it would be a useful detail to mention the command-line utilities.

    That's certainly just an anecdote, but there are similar and milder cases spread all over, both in gnome-app-install and particularly in more traditional repositories. Good descriptions are also important for searchability.

    Anything calling itself an app store should focus more on usability to the average person rather than to the geek who knows and cares what the difference between a Qt and GTK application is. That's another difference between a traditional repository and the kind of an app store the Novell guy is talking about. Yes, it's partially marketing, but it's also a matter of real usability for many people.

    Other details such as meaningful sorting for search results come to mind. Also, in an app store you'd probably want to pre-select the applications at least to some degree rather than dumping all open source software the world has produced into the same view. (Huge repositories such as Debian's certainly have their place, and I love having one at my disposal, but most people really aren't going to need a gazillion different applications written for different UI toolkits when there's a perfectly decent one for the one that comes

  • by SupplyMission (1005737) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @11:36AM (#28266379)

    Riiiight... how many new Linux users do you think would like to go messing around in SourceForge, getting lost in all the operating systems, CPU architectures and package versions, just to try out the open source version of Bejewelled?

    "App store" has come to mean something where people can browse a list of apps, click "install" on the apps they like, and immediately start using the app. I'm sure it's not hard to see why SourceForge does not fit that description.

  • Re:Apt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcupitt65 (68879) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:26PM (#28267321)

    I think you're missing the key point of a repository: it's a (large) set of software packages that are tested to work together. If you let devs update their packages willy-nilly, you're going to get horrible breakage very quickly.

    Apple's app-store works because there are almost never (as far as I know) dependencies between apps. Updating an app might break the user's savefiles I guess, but it won't stop another app working. To make an analogy: an app store which devs can update can only ever contain leaves, you can't put any twigs/branches/trunk in there.

    I suppose you can imagine an app store built on top of apt. An extra repository which is guaranteed to only contain packages upon which nothing else depends, and which has much looser restrictions on updates.

  • by Gerald (9696) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:50PM (#28267687) Homepage

    Sourceforge lacks the polish of a true app store. Techies are comfortable with it, but it would be confusing to a mass audience.

    "Comfortable" is a relative term. "Able to wade through all of the dead projects and locate the useful bits" would be more accurate. Same with Freshmeat.

  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#28269553)

    "Comfortable" is a relative term. "Able to wade through all of the dead projects and locate the useful bits" would be more accurate. Same with Freshmeat.

    Sourceforge is root canal. Sourceforge is the cast that keeps you on crutches for six weeks - with an itch you cannot scratch.

    If Sourceforge were a movie, it would be The Land of the Lost.

  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @02:50PM (#28269681)

    In Add/Remove Software, go to the search box, look for Gweled, click install

    And if I don't frequent Slashdot, how do I know that Gweled is in the repository, what it does, or how to spell it?

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