App Stores

Ha! I just read an article by one of my least-favourite authours touting his idea of radical ideas that will become popular in 2011. One was the app store… Chuckle.

The idea is that folks love to be able to download and install software without leaving the chair. This has become popular with the mobile folks out of necessity. If they don’t have CD drives it is hard to buy a CD to install software. The authour thinks M$ will soon provide the innovation of an app store for that other OS.

I find it amazing that in 2011 the advantages of GNU/Linux package management systems are considered an innovation by “mainstream” IT folks. APT and RPM have been providing such features for more than a decade. I started using GNU/Linux with Caldera eDesktop in 2000. Then “the store” was a single CD. Soon distros were using 3 or 4 CDs of software. Now Debian lists 53 CDs in the set. The CDs are rarely used these days. They are more a unit of measure of the size of the app store. Folks mostly do some default installation and add packages from the store to customize it. The package management system installs requested packages and all dependencies automatically from web servers.

GNU/Linux package managers are a beautiful way to install software: no CDs, no trips to a bricks-and-mortar store, no purchase orders (it’s all free of charge), and no lock-in (it’s Free Software. You can run, examine, modify and distribute to your heart’s content.). Packages are digitally signed to ensure no malware has been introduced after/during production. Those with multiple computers or the need to install on random machines can keep a local repository, a cache of used packages or disc images which can be legally copied/installed as many times as one wishes. It’s good to see the mainstream IT folks finally embrace the efficiencies we have been enjoying for a decade in GNU/Linux. Perhaps soon folks will choose to be completely free of the constraints of non-free software and really start to enjoy IT.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to App Stores

  1. Thad says:

    Indeed, Apple’s refusal to allow apps that require third-party dependencies makes me think they took a look at an apt-get frontend and completely missed the point of the backend.

    The App Store is just like apt-get — if you take out the single most important thing about apt-get.

  2. oe says:

    These nascent “App Stores” are only about to the level of refinement where integrated package management was about c. 2000, if that. Even in 1994, Slackware could pull down tarballs and unzip from net via ftp using the menu front-end installer that came with the 15 floppy core set.

  3. Richard Chapman says:

    Steve Jobs “invented” the App store and Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb. That’s how corporate interests invent history.

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