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    Not sure I agree that an App Store is a requirement for a platform. Game consoles existed for a long time before App Stores became a thing, and I certainly would consider them “platforms”.

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      I don’t ever use the App Store on Mac or Windows and I seem to have a perfectly functional environment. They didn’t even have stores until just a few years ago. So I agree, I don’t see how this is a requirement.

      I think the actual requirement is the ability to package up an application into a downloadable installer that’s guaranteed to work.

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        I can’t think of a major game console released this decade that doesn’t have an App Store, so I’m not sure this argument holds as much water as it might have.

        IMO an App Store is just a package manager that takes payments.

        I definitely want a package manager, and I don’t mind paying for software, so I tend to appreciate having one.

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          released this decade

          Why does that even matter? The PlayStation 2 is still a platform. The Wii didn’t need Internet access. People have already pointed out F-droid. Linux distributions allow you to add 3rd party repositories or overlays. Play/AppStore do not.

          Modern platforms should be able to run and operate if their underlying service go away. They currently cannot, and that’s a big problem.

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            “Released this decade” is relevant because it speaks to current consumer expectations.

            RE “underlying service going away”: Once I buy/install a game on the switch, AFAIK it will never need connectivity again.

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              Current consumer expectations don’t always involve an app store. People in a corporate environment that use Windows don’t expect an app store, especially if their environment is still windows 7. Yours is a narrow-minded view of the idea behind calling something a platform. User expectations don’t go so far as to assume some kind of central store for apps.

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            While not GNU/Linux, LineageOS + F-droid is a functional platform that doesn’t have an ‘app store’ that takes payments. It (F-droid) does encourage donations to projects it distributes, but I still think defining a platform on the requirement that it includes an ‘app store’ that takes payments is not correct.

            The article doesn’t actually define what exactly they mean by ‘app store’ though (package manager vs package manager that can charge you).

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              LineageOS + F-droid

              Off topic, but can you recommend something from F-droid? I recently switched from using iOS for years to buying a refurbished android phone and throwing LineageOS + mindthegapps + f-droid on it. I have installed most of the apps I use from the play store, a few from direct download from websites, and only a single one from f-droid: Material Files which works very well. I haven’t yet found any of the things I need (spotify, mullvad, firefox …) in the f-droid app, and yeah, any recommendations for free libre apps on f-droid that can replace things I might be using from play store? I know about the firefox fork that’s more open, but other than that?

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                Really depends what you want.

                • Amaze is a nice file manager
                • BeHe keyboard is a slightly more tech-y keyboard app, which doesn’t send everything you type to an AI somewhere
                • K-9 Mail for non-gmail email client
                • Syncthing is a decent non-dropbox file sync
                • VLC for video playing

                What I haven’t found yet is a good, general-purpose music player that lets me work with actual files instead of assuming everything’s in albums the way iTunes does. If anyone has suggestions…

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                  I really like Vanilla Music, but I do have everything tagged correctly and am fine with the Album/Artist view. It does have a file tab, but it’s probably not as full-blown as you’re looking for :(

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                    Thank you, I’ll check your suggestions out!

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                    We had a whole thread about it.

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                      Thank you!

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                      I haven’t tried this, but this app claims to be capable of fetching and updating Spotify.. I’m not aware of any pure FOSS client that can interact reliably with this proprietary service.


                      I’ve never heard of this so I had to search. If you are referring to the VPN service, they seem to use Wireguard, so unless they are doing something super crazy it seems like you should be able to use the Wireguard client on F-droid..


                      fennec, which is literally just Firefox without any proprietary bits or Mozilla branding.

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                  I would call the Windows app store pretty much a failure, too.

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                    I have not personally used it, but from what friends and colleagues have told me, it does sound like a tire fire.

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                    The NES might not have had an Internet connection to browse and download new games, but it definitely had a specific place to go to find new content (toy stores), which was heavily curated and managed by the platform owner, and which charged developers to participate. And every game console ever since has followed the same basic business model.

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                      Back then you had actual, physical app stores, e.g. Gamestop.

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                        Presumably they just mean “an easy way for users to discover and install new programs, and for developers to publish them”.

                        A package manager is a building block for such a thing, but it currently isn’t very easy for desktop users to add new repositories, which makes it harder to install new software. And having to manually add these is extra effort. Of course, that’s a tradeoff: I wouldn’t want random developers to be able to ship their crap to me (which is what the app stores basically boil down to, as much as Apple and Google try to pretend these things are curated, they’re not; they just try to keep the worst offenders out).

                        On the other hand, quality of officially packaged software in Debian or Ubuntu really varies a lot, as well. But at least it’s all free software.

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                        I found this rambling about “Linux is not like macOS and Windows, what can we do to make it more like it” rather boring.

                        Some people are happy that they have a valid third choice compared to the differently colored walled gardens, even if that means having to invest some work on their own.

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                          Linux may not be a “platform”, but GNU/Linux or Android/Linux is. I may not have an app store, but the “app ecosystem” seems pretty viable on my distro, and has done for a while.

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                            App stores are broken package managers.

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                              Even if we assume that this is true, there still isn’t a package manager in the shared Linux platform. If you want to be a part of the Linux conversation at all, you need to produce at least two: RPM and DEB. And if you want to get more than a mere plurality of Linux installers then you need several more (Pacman, Guix, Nix, Emerge…)

                              For someone that wants to distribute a package that works, this really sucks. I don’t like the Play Store’s lack of dependency management, either, but when I produce an APK, I appreciate knowing that I don’t need to produce anything else. The ideal package manager format is the same one everyone else uses.

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                                For someone that wants to distribute a package that works, this really sucks.

                                On the other hand, for someone who just wants to use an existing program and not have it break six months down the line, it’s fantastic.

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                                  I don’t understand what this has to do with having several widespread packaging formats. Having software that does “not break six months down the line” requires only that:

                                  • The package be OSS, or, at least, the distributor posess a copy of the source code and the legal right to do necessary integration patching.

                                  • The package be buildable without an internet connection, using only files that the distro has.

                                  • Any online services the package relies upon be available six months down the line, either because it’s not a networked application anyway, the organization behind its runtime dependencies is stable (the NTP Pool, the DNS Root, the various TLS CAs, detectportal.firefox.com), or because it relies on no mothership (BitTorrent, mDNS).

                                  I love the idea of distro-curated, 100%-OSS, repositories. In fact, I’d go farther and say that I like the way they’re implemented better than the app stores run by Google, Apple, and Microsoft. The fact that they are incompatible with each other, however, just seems like unnecessary friction.

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                                What do you mean?

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                                Unpopular opinion: so what.

                                I use small tools on my Gentoo install, the same ones I use on my Raspbian installs, the same ones on my Void install. There is a barrier to entry, the learning curve can be looked at this way. However the conversation should pick an audience. If you want Just Werks there is Windows, Mac, or Ubuntu. Persons that choose other distros are not necessarily looking for this. They possibly want maximum customization, or just plain looking for a challenge. If all distros were exactly the same the only other choice would be LFS or a BSD.

                                tldr: people who want an ecosystem already choose a large distro.

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                                  Platform is a set of standards. You don’t need a set operating system, but it could be set in standards. You don’t need a set developer platform, but it could be set in standards. You don’t need a set design language, but it could be set in standards. You don’t need a set app store, but it could be set in standards. What is now commonly refereed as “Linux” platform is mostly a mix of: POSIX, Wayland/X11, and ELF. This doesn’t have a set operating system, only the standards it implements. This doesn’t have a set developer platform, only the standards it implements. This doesn’t have a set design language. This doesn’t have a set app store. It is definitely a platform. This narrative that GNOME is pushing is a bit worrying. I think that they are trying to monopolize the Linux desktop space.

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                                    The main takeaway I found in this is that Linux is a foundation, rather than a platform. It is not useful by itself, but is very important for building the rest.

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                                      There is certainly a “posix” platform: you distribute your code with a working makefile, and people compile and run it. This is pretty well-defined and it includes most of linux systems except android. You can also distribute 64 bit static linux binaries that will work on most linux systems without trouble. I do not really understand what these gnome guys are talking about.

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                                        POSIX is incredibly nebulous beyond a thin subset, and it doesn’t talk much about things I would consider essential on servers, like how services should be administered, executable formats, or complex threading (Enough to say, write a garbage collector with.).

                                        There’s a reason any large project of scope eventually accumulates CMake/autotools/meson and a large clump of #ifdefs.

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                                          …services should be administered…

                                          This is vital even on desktops and mobile devices. It always has been, really.

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                                          From the perspective of the vast majority desktop operating system users, POSIX is as much of a platform as most small cars nowadays share the same frame. It’s an interesting technical detail over a beer, but it doesn’t impact your experience the slightest.

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                                          This is a good article with some solid thinking but I think the author is way over-indexing on the lack of an app store (I know others have said this but bear with me.)

                                          I personally think that Linux is actually becoming a platform when you consider that Ubuntu and Redhat have both gone all in on Gnome. Gnome does have a consistent design standard, and whether your platform chooses Snap store or FlattHub I feel like both of these are in fact “actual app stores” for all intents and purposes.

                                          The author discards Ubuntu as a valid platform because it has no design sense, but really, it now does, because they picked Gnome, full stop. Ubuntu software center integrates with Snap, so, again, as I see it - problem solved.

                                          The author doesn’t actually mention the key things I personally value in a platform - the persnickety fiat details that make workflows Just Work in the Windows and Mac world - like the 9000 different ways to cut and paste.

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                                            To me this reads like saying: “Starbucks is a place. McDonalds is a place. The park isn’t a place.”

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                                              The criteria they put down — as usual — are suspiciously close to whatever the other players on the market are doing. Linux isn’t a platform that the corporations want to see, sure, but is that a bad thing? Rhetorical question, I don’t assume people on here are idiots. Linux — as a wider ecosystem — will survive and thrive, I’m sure of it, in a world without corporate interests. The projects this post makes nods to won’t.

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                                                And distro repos generally do a much better job than the bloody app stores the post drools over. User interfaces — sure, that’s a mess, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater eh. I don’t need random developers dropping their crap into close — conceptually — proximity of my live systems thank you very much.