Friday, June 26, 2009

Software Installation on Linux

Software is only as good as how its perceived to be. The perception of its usefulness is controlled by the user. These days, the user really does not care if the software installation is "user specific" or not. From a user's point of view, it needs to work. That's it.

As a user who doesn't care about how the system works, if you're prompted to enter a password for software installation, that's one more dialog box you have to deal with. If software could be installed on a per user basis, as a user, you'd still see a dialog box that asks you if you want to install it for you or for everyone. Now, does that sound familiar? Windows does it. How many times have you actually stopped to think about the merits vs the demerits of installing the software for others when you answered that question? That's your answer for you right there - the real problem is the additional step of communication required.

What is needed is an App Store for Linux that is distribution agnostic. From a user's point of view, they need one place to search for "an application that does what they want". They need one way to install it. Finally, they need to know how they can access the application they have installed.

What I'm essentially talking about here is reducing the learning curve for Linux. A byproduct of this effort will be making distributions more compatible. Nintendo and Apple have both proven that if you want real market growth, you need to convert new users. Easing installation of applications on Linux will go a long way towards that. What will also help is integrating the functionality of websites that provide the names to the Linux equivalents of popular Windows and Mac software from within the same application installation search box.

A new user is most likely to look for "photoshop for linux" if they're after a good photo editing suite. If they get results that show them equivalents and how they have been rated by others, that will go a long way into boosting the user's confidence that they might actually be able to get what they want done using Krita or The Gimp.

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