Chicken and Egg – Apps and OS

M$ had a huge headstart on GNU/Linux locking in OEMs, retailers and ISVs for years. In 2008, Apple started its “app store” tm and Android/Linux started it’s “market place” a few months later. Now, Apple has 2/3 of the app market and Android/Linux has about 1/3 with nearly one million mobile apps between them.

Will GNU/Linux ever catch up on the apps? Probably, after many more years. GNU/Linux is growing in usage and ISVs will soon see it in their best interests to serve the community. Besides the short lead-time of Apple over Android, that situation was totally different because Google and the OEMs really pushed the OS. We are not there yet with GNU/Linux. RedHat, Novell, Dell, IBM and Canonical are doing a lot but it’s nothing compared to M$’s partners. Still, M$ cannot kill Android/Linux nor GNU/Linux so they will keep growing share until there is some equity in the market place. Then ISVs will port to GNU/Linux if they want to keep share.

I expect other regions than USA will generate apps for GNU/Linux. USA is just too locked-in. The rest of the world will double its number of personal computing devices in the next few years and will have ample opportunity and motivation to port apps or to create apps for GNU/Linux. Already we have Android-x86 able to move into x86 spaces and ARM is ready to compete with x86 in desktops and notebooks and thin clients. It won’t be long. I give the ISVs a year or two to realize that GNU/Linux is “there” and a few more years to expand the availability of apps for GNU/Linux.

A consequence of this is that distros will have to be more accepting of external repositories because most distros have not the resources to host a million apps. Debian GNU/Linux is huge with 30K+ packages and takes a year or more to package one release. The load on developers and servers grows faster than the population of packages. A standard package and file-layout will be needed. APT is a good choice but has not been tested at these scales. Obviously mirrors cannot afford to grow to such sizes so distros will have to move to some server farms to distribute packages unless ISVs could manage to integrate somehow with the distros. A search engine specializing in finding packages may be the best option. Doing more things with web applications may be the best solution since it is easier to obtain OS-independence. ISVs may find web apps work better for them with GNU/Linux because there is no packaging problem and they can bill customers directly by usage.

These are problems that need a solution in the next few years. Will Google step in to provide service? Will a distributed system of mirrors and servers scale better? It will be interesting to see how the good features of current distros can be spread to a more diverse environment.

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.
This entry was posted in technology. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Chicken and Egg – Apps and OS

  1. Clarence Moon says:

    Perhaps it pertains to whether a person buys a Samsung or an HTC or a Motorola, but it does not pertain to whether they buy an iPhone or not. Is there any difference between the Android phones based on Android itself? I have what people class as a technical, computer industry job, but I don’t recognize the so-what implied by that litany of specs.

    Doubtless there are a handfull of engineers who might recognize their meaning, but I would bet that is only a fraction of one percent of the buyers of these devices.

    I think that I myself would buy the Motorola Razr because of the thin design and the ads I have seen lately. That is I would if I were going to buy a smart phone, but I am still satisfied with my cheap Samsungs T-Mobile pre-paid phones that cost me about $50 per year total.

  2. Clarence Moon wrote, “I don’t believe that phone purchase choice is made on the basis of operating system.”

    You’d better inform Samsung:

    Full comparison
    Expand all Collapse all
    Platform
    Operation System Android 2.3 Android 2.3 Gingerbread Android 2.2.2 Android Gingerbread 2.3
    Browser ECMA Script ver3
    xHTML
    xHTML-MP
    cHTML
    HTML 4.0
    Large format HTML rendering
    AJAX
    CSS 1.0
    CSS 2.1
    Webkit / 533.1 Android Browser Android Browser WAP 2.0 (HTTP stack only)

    Why would they put that information on their website if the consumers weren’t reading it? Why do the reviews mention Android if it were irrelevant?

  3. Clarence Moon says:

    I don’t believe that phone purchase choice is made on the basis of operating system. The buzz that I get is that there are still some die-hard Blackberry fans, although there are fewer every day. There are a lot of iPhone fans and their dedication is a matter of some excessive compulsion. Then there are the choosers who pick from Sony, Motorola, HTC, and Samsung. The latter phones are Android, to be sure, but the choice being made seems to be first off, “Apple or not?”. This decision is followed by which of the non-Apple choices appear to offer the best value or experience.

    The same sort of choice is made in a PC purchase, I think, with “Apple or not?” being a primary consideration these days, followed by which (Windows) computer model appears to be the best choice for one’s needs.

    Android itself seems to be somewhat of a rarity in terms of conventional desktop/laptop computer use. I ran across this:

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/22665/run-android-on-your-netbook-or-desktop/

    I am still too thrilled with my new Kindle to think of possibly messing it up with experiments using other Linux forms, so I am not likely to try anything. I do wonder, however, as to just how a conventional form of Linux would play out on a phone or tablet that is missing the mouse and keyboard at a minimum. It would seem so cumbersome as to make the whole idea useless.

  4. Kozmcrae says:

    “I think that very few people care one way or another about “Linux success”.”

    Yes Clarence, just like the people flying from New York to LA don’t care or know if the engines taking them there are made by GE or Rolls Royce or Fisher Price. I’m saying Android is Linux and you are saying no one knows it’s Linux. What the Hell difference does that make? When was it a prerequisite that ordinary people are supposed to know the technical makeup of their devices? All they know is the phone with the little green robot is the one to get.

  5. Clarence Moon wrote, “They will use what comes with their electronic device purchase as long as it meets their needs.”

    Chuckle. Don’t forget about choice. People have choice in mobile and they choose Android/Linux. Even people with iPhones are seeing the merits of Android/Linux phones.

    Android/Linux is a general purpose OS that runs on ARM and x86. GNU/Linux can run aside Android/Linux with no problem.

  6. Clarence Moon says:

    Koz says “Android is Linux” and that is a truism in the sense that Android uses the Linux core code to schedule and execute applications and maintain system state values. Those are useful functions and it would be useless for anyone to reinvent. But Android is much more than that and it deviates substantially from the sort of product formed as a general purpose desktop oriented systems such as Ubuntu.

    Android is designed for phones and tablets specifically and it is easy to see how that is currently a benefit to the cell phone makers and tablet makers (apparently the same companies mostly) who use it in their products.

    I think that very few people care one way or another about “Linux success”. They will use what comes with their electronic device purchase as long as it meets their needs.

  7. oiaohm says:

    JNI usage is clearly displayed from the outside of the program Dr Loser.

    In unsafe you can do pointer offsets in .net from .net code. So letting the direct pointer hell. Yes the type pointer that exists in .net.

    Problem is you cannot tell from the outside of the .net exe that it enables this evil.

    I find that TM a laugh. Dr. Loser Simple Fact is a term I use rarely. It about twice in this blog. Troll at work Dr Loser. There is a true term I do use more. And its not given to me on TM repo.

    “And an even more simple fact is that lawyers are greedy, grasping, disgusting, gutter-dwelling sign who will spontaneously lose all control of basic bodily functions when confronted with the possibility of a multi-billion dollar tort.”
    Other than the fact SCP owner did not like lawyers either.

    That have admited that you work on bing Dr Loser. You work at microsoft. If what I have found is not correct you are in the perfect location to provide the correct documents.

    The documents I have show SCP as the owner with a require for each OEM MS signed to have to pay SCP 75000 dollars.

    So if my simple fact is wrong it time for you to get the correction Dr Loser and present it here.

  8. Dr Loser wrote, “My nonsense is backed by experience in the programming field. Yours?”

    I have been programming on many platforms since 1968. I’ve written control systems, data collection and analysis systems, web applications and numerous number crunching applications. I’ve done CAD, numerical analysis, maths, physics, chemistry, electronics, ballistics, etc. all using computers.

  9. All measures I have been watching for a decade show steady growth of GNU/Linux. 10 years ago desktop share was about 3% and it has not gone backwards. Then it was a few businesses and many individuals. Since then we have had 500K seat roll-outs and OEMs and governments pushing it. Just because retail shelves in some parts of the world don’t show it does not mean it’s not happening.

  10. Actually Android/Linux has very little GNU in it. Google deliberately chose stuff with other licences for most of it. At one point, I downloaded the source and looked.

  11. Kozmcrae says:

    “The usual response is to suggest that any pro-Microsoft posting is from an “astroturfer” in the direct pay of Microsoft.”

    Many of the people who post here in defense of Microsoft appear to be going out of their way to make people who use and prefer Microsoft products to be sociopathic slobs. I would think Microsoft would pay people like that to not post on their behalf.

    The people, like you, who don’t seem to understand the relationship GNU/Linux has with the distributions really don’t want to associate Linux with Android’s success. I can understand that. To accept that Android’s success is Linux’ success is just too much to swallow for someone who has been denying the existence of Linux for many years.

    There are some minor differences but basically, Android is just another distro of GNU/Linux. It just has the support of a huge corporation and is focused, for now, on mobile devices. Like all distros, if you remove the Linux kernel at its heart, the whole OS crumbles. No Linux, no distro. No Linux, no Android. You can throw a bunch of words around and apply a large amount of bent logic but you still can’t deny it. Android is Linux.

  12. Clarence Moon says:

    It is interesting to see you class blogger support for Microsoft as a “cult” activity. The usual response is to suggest that any pro-Microsoft posting is from an “astroturfer” in the direct pay of Microsoft. But you allow for a moral conviction and dedication even to the extent of “worship”. That is out of the ordinary.

    Microsoft certainly has little presence in the mobile OS software market and is not likely to make any significant headway if the experts who post here and elsewhere are at all correct. On the other hand, there seems to be little evidence that their PC OS bread and butter is at any risk of being displaced in the foreseeable future. You are free to characterize that as a standstill, but it remains highly profitable, I think, and worth continuing pursuit.

    I think that you mischaracterize Android as just another Linux distribution, too. Android uses the Linux kernel for out of sight, mundane functionality, but the essence of the product lies in its support of application interfaces that are used to mimic Blackberry and Apple OS so that apps essentially identical to those found on the iPhone and iPad can be provided for the Android phones and tablets. As far as I know, that interface support does not exist in the same way for Linux distributions that might be used with more conventional PCs or servers.

  13. Kozmcrae says:

    “Android is, yes. But not Linux, and not Gnu.”

    Give it a break Dr. Really, someone as smart as you are supposed to be should know better.

    If Android is not GNU/Linux then neither is Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, PCLinuxOS, Fedora… Because that’s all Android is, just another distro. And GNU? It’s everywhere. Besides, like someone else said in another post. The Microsoft worshipers take every GNU/Linux, Linux milestone no matter how big or small and poo poo it. Declare it insignificant, soon to be blown over by some, as yet unnamed Microsoft project or marketing blitz. Left to die a silent death. And that’s the end of it, except it isn’t. GNU/Linux keeps going, improving, innovating and eating Microsoft’s lunch.

    The view of the Microsoft cult is just for today. Do not look to the past. It’s just too God awful how much Microsoft has lost and how steadfast it remains in its ways. The World is changing at a phenomenal rate but Microsoft is standing still, betting its future on a tired old operating system that has no place in the 21st Century. Good-by Microsoft.

  14. Dr Loser says:

    “GNU/Linux is growing in usage”

    I hardly need to point this out (and I will ignore the absurd prefix to Linux), but, no, it isn’t.

    Android is, yes. But not Linux, and not Gnu.

  15. Dr Loser says:

    @Robert

    “Dr Loser wrote some nonsense about modular software.”

    An opinion delivered from on high, I see. My nonsense is backed by experience in the programming field. Yours?

    “He’s obviously never heard of standards, plugins and mobile apps.”

    Show me a standard that rigorously avoids the external and version-dependent dependencies to which I refer. As for plugins, they’re a nice idea as a one (or even two) off if you need a specific piece of functionality (HTML debugging on Firefox springs to mind), but only a lunatic would expect dozens of the things to play nicely with each other. I await your counter-example with interest.

    “Mobile apps?” I was expecting a come-back based on shell scripts. Here’s a challenge for you, Robert. Pick any two mobile apps, any two at all, and tell me how you can get them to communicate reliably with each other. And after that, explain why it’s a better model than building them both as a single unit.

    “There is a huge demand for tiny apps to do specific things.”

    Sez you.

    “People are tired of bloat.”

    Perhaps they should be, but they’re not. Frankly, I doubt that most people notice, either way.

    “They want flexibility.”

    Primarily they want something that works. Flexibility, whatever that vague term might mean, is a nice-to-have afterthought.

    Your model, Robert, does not work. Look at Smalltalk as an example: it lived and, indeed, died, on that model.

  16. Dr Loser says:

    @Oiaohm:

    “Dream world. Java does not allow direct OS pointers. .Net does allow direct pointers in unsafe mode so making it as weak as C or any other low level language if someone has has flicked the unsafe option.”

    Java: JNI. C#: unmanaged C++, or P/Invoke.

    I have programmed both, so I am qualified to state an opinion. Both are potentially horribly unsafe. The main difference is that unmanaged C++ is a standardised part of the .Net framework (compiled and linked as part of a VS project), whereas JNI is just a bodge (compiled via a completely separate command and linked in at an arbitrary point). P/Invoke should only be used in libraries, and frankly it’s so insanely complicated that nobody else is going to touch it.

    Incidentally, I’m struggling to think of a direct OS pointer on either Linux or That Other. Opaque pointers do not count.

    “.Net is a lazy path for people who were using Visual Basic Applications to upgrade to.”

    Never used VBA in my life. .Net, on the other hand, yes. This is an absurd statement. It’s like claiming that C++ is a lazy path for people who were using C to upgrade to. Maybe so, but who cares?

    “Now a java code base. Is at least somewhat android compatible.”

    One would certainly hope so. Just at the moment, I forget what the main language for Android is. Could you refresh my memory?

    “Flash is going open source … Flash will have open source plugin that will run Flash perfectly after adobe leaves the game.”

    Er, well, I can only bow to the biggest pair of crystal balls I have ever seen in my life.

    “XMLVM [link]?”

    What sort of raving nutter is going to deploy this insane level of abstraction? I suspect I could use an Abstract Syntax Tree to convert between the JVM (Dalvik or otherwise) and MSIL, if I really felt the need, but do you know why people don’t do this? It’s the libraries, stupid. Either Java or C# are worthless without the libraries. And, trust me, you are not going to want to debug and maintain the libraries in byte code. Dressing it up in XML doesn’t alter the fact that this is an incredibly dumb idea.

    “Same with PC usage large businesses Windows usage is different to small businesses.”

    Well then: using your argument (yours, remember, not mine) we can all expect “large businesses” to deploy all future development of huge corporate Oracle databases on a mobile phone farm, because it runs on Java. Oh, wait. No we can’t.

    “.Net has mostly been a failure. You normally only find it in businesses where staff have attended one to many MS conferences so cannot think about scale.”

    Where does “scale” come into this? What is unscalable about .Net? Bing (disclaimer, etc, I work for Bing) is really quite large, and it’s moving to .Net — a bit of a shame for me, since I’m fundamentally a C++ programmer. But I can’t argue with the logic.

    SimpleFact(TM) is the story of a full sale of rights does not match up with documents from 1983 and if you dig into other archives it don’t match up to 1981 or 1982 records.”

    An even more simple fact, Oiaohm, is that neither you nor I am a lawyer. And an even more simple fact is that lawyers are greedy, grasping, disgusting, gutter-dwelling sign who will spontaneously lose all control of basic bodily functions when confronted with the possibility of a multi-billion dollar tort.

    Strangely, it doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.

    And so on. Sorry if I appear to be cherry picking your weird beliefs. I could equally well pick any other sentence you’ve written under this post.

  17. Dr Loser wrote some nonsense about modular software. He’s obviously never heard of standards, plugins and mobile apps. There is a huge demand for tiny apps to do specific things. People are tired of bloat. They want flexibility.

  18. Dr Loser says:

    “It makes a lot of sense to have apps that are modular so that one only needs to run a small part of the app to get stuff done.”

    Would you please leave these architectural and marketing decisions to those of us who are paid (whether in OSS or on That Other System) to make them, Robert?

    It makes no sense whatsoever. All you would be doing is to replace an internal dependency graph (which, as a programmer, I can control) with an unbounded external dependency graph, complete with version incompatibilities, which absolutely nobody can control.

    Note that I am just talking from a design and QA perspective here, not from a proprietary software perspective. Your model would suck horribly, either way.

  19. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon Depends what level business.

    Large businesses .net is the minority vastly out numbered by Java solutions. What is Oracle solutions basically.

    Same with PC usage large businesses Windows usage is different to small businesses.

    Really Clarence Moon .Net as mostly been a failure. You normally only find it in businesses where staff have attended one to many MS conferences so cannot think about scale. Mostly these businesses are also reinventing the wheel of other existing solutions that work better that are not .net.

    Over the dos bit I do have the book writing by the Author of Qdos yes Tim Paterson over that time. Sorry the problem is you are disputing against written fact by the person who did the mistake.

    The mistake had caused a legal nightmare that is why the judge was taking so long to rule. How to handle the sale to IBM if the sale to MS was invalid.

    http://www.patersontech.com/Dos/Softalk/Softalk.html
    “They [Microsoft] paid us a flat fee. It was not a per-copy royalty, but per OEM. Part of the contract said we couldn’t ask them who they were selling it to or planning to sell it to.”
    This was the first contract. This contract does not transfer ownership to Microsoft. Also does not stop SCP from keeping on selling there own DOS.

    Yes that is right MS per OEM by the first contract is ment to be paying SCP $75000 each. This is where the 60 million cost comes from.

    Note the story changes from 1983 to when the get to court in 1985. Somehow in those 2 years Microsoft 75000 dollars per OEM turns into buying the rights to the source.

    Simple fact is the story of a full sale of rights does not match up with documents from 1983 and if you dig into other archives it don’t match up to 1981 or 1982 records. The first appearance of MS buying rights of DOS in 1980 is 1985 when the second contract turns up that has been hidden. Remember at this time Tim Paterson is already working at Microsoft. Lose of Tim Paterson to Microsoft had ruined SCP means to keep on developing.

    Please also remember Tim Patterson also moonlighted at Microsoft when Microsoft was writing Basic before he joined SCP. All I can suspect is Tim Patterson was MS first mole in other companies to make progress.

    Clarence Moon at a min there is a abnormality between reported records. These abnormalities are not reported in the wikipedia.

    Also remember when Microsoft was creating basic they stole computer time and other things. Lot of underhanded things were going on in the early history of Microsoft. “When they were given a new system to work with, they hacked into the system to make it so that the computer did not record the time that they spent on it, causing them to be banned from it for weeks.” http://www.freeinfosociety.com/article.php?id=74

    Basically gates & allen and morals have never really matched.

    The victor gets to write the history in a lot of cases. So MS is getting to write out the fact they did wrong to SCP since they won long term.

  20. Clarence Moon says:

    You are very prolific with your opinions, Mr. Oiaohm! One is reminded of the old notion of “Jack of all trades”. You make a lot of noise regarding technical issues and you may have a good case, but I am not so versed in this as to have any opinion of my own. I would hope that your technical accuracy is far superior to your legal and historical sense.

    Your insults aside, .NET is the new lingua franca of the PC world and it is quite enough for it to dominate in business applications for Windows which represents close to 100% of the business use of personal computers. You are welcome to your tiny niche and your sophistry, I will gladly remain with the vast majority, perhaps unknowing, but nevertheless unworried.

  21. oiaohm says:

    Robert Pogson the new devices with Quad core and 1G less than 5 years behind current desktop power.

    Clarence Moon
    “Also, I think you are missing the essence of .NET and Silverlight (although Silverlight is being replace with HTML5 these days I understand). The .NET stuff is extremely popular at my company and has replace the Visual Basic Applications stuff that we used to have. The applications implemented under .NET are just like java in that they run in a managed environment and protect from malware attacks.”

    Dream world. Java does not allow direct OS pointers. .Net does allow direct pointers in unsafe mode so making it as weak as C or any other low level language if someone has has flicked the unsafe option. So protected from malware attacks are you kidding me you don’t know .net really. Java is a fully managed environment.

    Basically saying .net is just like Java shows incompetence and failure to understand the secuirty difference between the two.

    .Net is a lazy path for people who were using Visual Basic Applications to upgrade to.

    .Net is mostly dead everywhere bar windows. You go to OS X MS does not release a .Net for OS X you go to Linux you don’t have a good quality .Net either. Mobile phone everything bar Windows Phones don’t have good quality .Net either. And Windows Phones basically are dead in the water.

    Now a java code base. Is at least somewhat android compatible

    There are already other accountancy options appearing on android tablets as complex as Quicken you imagination is very limited.

    Flash is going open source silverlight is just dieing. Yes Flash will have open source plugin that will run Flash perfectly after adobe leaves the game.

    Besides Clarence Moon I have a tool that eats all those .net applications removing my requirement to have to support them on gnu/Linux, Android/linux, OS X or iOS(ipads/iphones).

    http://www.xmlvm.org Kiss good by to .net and get up to modern times. Platform does not need .net to run applications that were designed in .net.

  22. Clarence Moon wrote, “Major applications on Windows, though, are a lot more expensive and generally overly complex for use on a tablet or phone, in my opinion. I cannot imagine using Quicken on the Kindle, there is too much typing and too much information to scroll through for such a small screen. “

    Many people are rethinking apps. The bloat makes many apps expensive and most “features” are not used by most users. It makes a lot of sense to have apps that are modular so that one only needs to run a small part of the app to get stuff done. Graphics production and complex screens probably do not belong on a small screen but if a lot of content is being generated for small devices, they can do the job well enough. In the long run, I think most apps will run on servers somewhere and be used from some client device, even a tablet. Just as developers found there is a limit to how long menu lists should be they should now also appreciate putting only useful stuff on screens. The “unity” interface is partly about that. Done right, any app can be useful on a tiny screen as long as the resolution and eyes can manage it. It’s not for me at my age.

    The CPU and RAM in many smart thingies is about what ATX PCs had ten years ago. Stuff got done. The screen/keyboard is the limiting factor and smart developers can work around those.

  23. Clarence Moon says:

    There are apps for phones and tablets and then there are critical applications for PCs. The two are not necessarily comparable. With my new Kindle, I can buy the popular apps for 99 cents (Angry Birds) or mostly free (Netflix, Hulu, E*Trade). Angry Birds was free, too, if I were willing to put up with some popup ads.

    Major applications on Windows, though, are a lot more expensive and generally overly complex for use on a tablet or phone, in my opinion. I cannot imagine using Quicken on the Kindle, there is too much typing and too much information to scroll through for such a small screen. I could do it in a pinch, but I would much rather just use my laptop or desktop.

    Also, I think you are missing the essence of .NET and Silverlight (although Silverlight is being replace with HTML5 these days I understand). The .NET stuff is extremely popular at my company and has replace the Visual Basic Applications stuff that we used to have. The applications implemented under .NET are just like java in that they run in a managed environment and protect from malware attacks.

  24. I don’t think Suse is actually destroyed but they are at the edge of a tar-pit. I think having anything to do with M$ or its protocols is dangerous, even Samba, let alone Silverlight, .NET and the others. Trying to be compatible with M$ sucks people in but one has to do something with all the machines out there. I strongly prefer to pave them over. It’s easy, simple, fast, cheap, and it works.

  25. Waldo Frankenhammer III says:

    Very interesting questions. I don’t believe I’ve heard them before. Generally speaking, you’re saying there will need to be/will be a maturing of the “community” run distros with some formal recognition or affiliation with the commercial sector.

    That’s already begun with Suse and Microsoft. Once something becomes a part of Microsoft, it loses all of the elements that gave it its individuality. The things that made it special. It just becomes another blob in the Microsoft amoeba.

    That’s an example of how the commercial sector can destroy a distro. There are elements that are responsible for the success of a distro and there are elements that keep it from becoming a commercial success. If the former elements are sacrificed for the success of the latter elements, then you have a failure because some other distro/commercial team will find a way to make them both work and clean your clock.

    That’s why GNU/Linux will win in the end. Many distros to choose from and many commercial firms to match with them. More than one of them will find the combination of strengths and how to mate them. That’s already happened. And it will happen again.

Leave a Reply