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Re: [] Web app stores

From: Luis Villa
Subject: Re: [] Web app stores
Date: Thu, 5 May 2011 08:08:59 -0700

On Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 1:08 PM, Christopher Allan Webber
<address@hidden> wrote:
>  'of course, but it seems "app store" is an incantation making people
>  forget "free software", hints of that in interview above...'

I think that's incorrect. It is true that current App Stores, as
implemented (other than Mozilla), have DRM. But otherwise they're
pretty neutral with regards to freedom. It's not like apt or yum throw
licensing information in your face these days, and even those
repositories that download source (gems) still go out of their way to
build it for you so you don't have to think about it. So DRM is an
implementation detail.

And on non-freedom issues, app stores are pretty clearly superior to
apt, yum, etc. as currently implemented. They're better for end users:

* You actually get the code that the developer intended you to get-
it's updated regularly and reliably and it is better-tested. (Debian
and Fedora rarely add value.)

* They collect reviews and user information, so they're actually
better at helping people find software that works.

* They never choke on dependencies. If the app is there, it works.
(It's just awful that in 2011, when disk and bandwidth have been cheap
for a decade, Fedora's package tool still asks me by default if I want
to install dependencies. And it's awful that sometimes those
dependencies still break.)

They're better for developers:

* They're easier to develop for- because they're consistent
everywhere. No duplication of effort.
* They provide a bigger install base quickly- because, again, you
write once and install everywhere.

They're better for distributors:
* They can focus on actually doing what they do well- deep integration
of core system components- and not spend time on peripherals that in a
sane world the peripheral authors would be preparing for distribution

All these problems are fixable in apt/yum/etc., but by the time
they're fixed, the finished product will be essentially
indistinguishable from a centralized Linux "app store"- except without
the DRM.

By the way, free project idea for people who want to see more freedom
on Android: build a parallel app store (like Amazon's) which only has
libre apps. Bonus points if (unlike apt, yum, etc.) it allows you to
pay  application authors simply and easily (we could call that tipping
if it makes people feel more comfortable ;) Same thing is perfectly
possible for Mozilla's as well, if one is so inclined. Heck, FSF could
operate it :)


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