We live in cool times. Everybody’s up creating an AppStore of some kind. After Apple brought out the concept, Nokia, Microsoft and even Sun (really !) are hurrying up putting together their ones.
Many Open Source supporters have noted again and again, that Linux repositories are pretty much the equivalent of an AppStore. Interestingly enough, many Mac users noted the same thing, equaling Ubuntu’s Add/Remove program to the iPhone AppStore.
Still, there’s some ground to fill, as AppStore has some end user features that Linux equivalents lack.
So what’s the news ?
It seems that times are finally mature for Ubuntu to re-do their package manager frontend.
Well, their four (4!) frontends, since Ubuntu currently uses a mixture of Synaptics, Add/Remove applications, UpdateManager and gDebi to full fill its software needs.
A Launchpad blueprint dated 2005 (!) has been finally taken in consideration and the related wiki page has been given some love during the past months.
It’s incautious to base prediction on a (brainstorming) wiki page
Right. I’m just rambling. That wiki page is around since 2005, and what’s listed is just some kind of brainstorm, nothing more.
So, take this post with a silos of salt Everything in here is just guesses. So not everything or nothing at all will become reality.
It’s incautious to talk about an Ubuntu AppStore
That said, the project codename is AppCenter, which is similar enough (the word ‘store‘ may have some heavy repercussions among ner..community).
I can definitely foresee a lot of hype for this project, when it will go live.
Some of the hottest features may (probably) be:
- it will be an unified solution to handle all the required functionalities
- user reviews on every package (yay!)
- user rating on every package
- screenshots of the applications (sort of already present in Jaunty’s Synaptic – did you noticed ?)
- asynchronous download and installation (dependencies getting downloaded first and should install *while* the dependant software is being downloaded)
- being much more friendly and explanatory.
- better support for paid applications
Even more incautiously
I have a strong sensation that the new AppCenter will feature much better support (thus emphasis) for paid applications. I have no proof, though .
2005… will that ever be done ?
I believe so, mostly because the Blueprint has been scheduled for discussion with High priority. Also the 2 images in the page, look pretty much Canonicalish.
So, looks like the ‘Add/Remove’ program with a reworked left pane which displays a custom taxonomy. Don’t miss how the partner software is present in the list. Also the application list shows the size of the program (downloaded? installed?).
Another mockup, this time cooler:
This shows the status of Canonical support for the installed software.
I defined those mockup Canonicalish because they mainly deal with Canonical needs. That’s not obviously to say that the AppCenter will serve only for that, there have been a lot of request for changes and features about how the applications are installed in Linux.
Please note that those mockups are likely to serve just to highlight a few points, I guess and hope the final design will be pretty much different.
Here’s the good news: the blueprint is scheduled for discussion at the Karmic UDS (which is a massive meeting to decide how the next Ubuntu release will be), which will start… today !
So probably they will decide for something totally different from the wiki page content and this post will end up being confirmed to be erroneous in 1 or 2 days. Too bad.
Here’s the bad news: I frankly doubt it will be shipped in the next Ubuntu release. Also I think much more testing than the usual will be done for such a fundamental part of the system. The path more likely to be followed is the usual PPA testing release, followed by the official release 6 month later.
What about Kubuntu ?
I have no idea. But, hey, this is your chance to start whining in advance !
What would I like
Because I know you care about what *I* want.
I pretty much like the AppStore comparison. But like even more the Firefox Addons website. Especially I’d like to see a nice welcome screen, with a series of links to various sections such as:
- recommended first time packages (pre-decided list, to help new users)
- most popular packages
- newer packages (listing the newer desktop applications added in the current ubuntu release. Could also update every time a new repository is added).
An application wide filter to hide non-desktop stuff (like it already happen in with the Add/Remove thingie) would also be appreciated.
Also a permalink on the description page, would be pretty nice. You want to suggest a package to someone? You just have to copy paste the (apt url) application link into your IM or blog post.
Also I hope they find the right way to allow user reviews/comments as I consider those fundamentals. Have you ever wondered why Php is more widespread than Python ? Because user comments on the manual (php | python). Yes, that’s the reason.
What I would like, but no one will do
I would like third party repositories to be installable via APT url.
- you click the link
- AppCenter opens and shows
- a warning about third party software (usual scaring disclaimer)
- other users comments and rating (“attention! it’s virus respostitory ! xcuse my englisc me am from Italy!”)
- you click confirm
- the ‘new’ section updates with the newer/updated packages, and you get redirected there
- you install everything you can thus screwing your box.
As noted, don’t expect this to come anytime soon. Ask me why.
Matthew Paul Thomas, Canonical employee, has been kind enough to post a comment and make some points even clearer. Big thanks !
This is a multi-release project. Our goal is to have a version 1.0 of the application ready to feature in Ubuntu 9.10, but exactly how much it will do remains to be seen. For example, user ratings and reviews almost certainly will not be in 1.0.
The first mockup you posted was drawn by a community member, based on a sketch of mine, and almost certainly does not reflect the final layout. For example, your suggestion of a welcome screen is spot-on, and is very similar to what we discussed during the session.
UPDATE 2: Roadmap and some more discussion here !
Find all the good stuff here:
Is there anything you’d like the new AppCenter to handle ? Do you have any additional information you’d like to share ?