[Gta04-owner] GTA04A4 Group Tour - next steps

Neil Jerram neil at ossau.homelinux.net
Fri Apr 6 00:42:36 CEST 2012

Radek Polak <psonek2 at seznam.cz> writes:

> On Thursday 05 April 2012 12:48:46 Andreas Kemnade wrote:
>> Don't we have already tools for managing .debs and .ipk/opk which
>> already have several options for selection?
>> Why we need a web browser here?
>> Maybe just adding a filter for applications which are easy to use with
>> fingers on a small touch screen should be enough? .debs have already
>> some tagging system.

This is my view too.  I would encourage any GTA04-focussed app store or
package manager to be developed in a way that complements the existing
Debian infrastructure.  That could include:

- Providing a more finger-friendly / GTA04-friendly /
  higher-level-user-friendly package management app than the existing
  Debian ones (aptitude, synaptic etc.).

- A way of indicating which applications are particularly well suited to
  the GTA04, and/or filtering so that only those applications are shown
  prominently.  The assessment of suitedness could be fed by reviews /
  kudos / voting / device-aware popularity contest

- A way of linking installed applications back to their upstreams
  (e.g. upstream home page), so as to facilitate donation and other
  upstream contributions.

- A GTA04-specific repository, if that's really needed for some reason.
  But it would be better for any necessary tweaks to be integrated into
  the main Debian archive.

Regarding whether it should be a mostly local application, or via a web
browser, I'd prefer a local application.

The Nokia 770/N800/Maemo community went through this whole thought
process before.  There we ended up with

- a simple and finger-friendly application manager program - but
  actually too simple, not showing reviews or screenshots, and not
  always handling dependencies properly

- the downloads.maemo.org website - with reviews, screenshots, kudos and
  one-click installs.  (And which is still there, so you can take a

One of the factors behind that, though, was a rather messy repository
situation.  Although they used Debian-like infrastructure, the Nokia
distributions were never based on the plain Debian archive.  Instead
there was a complex mix of official and contributor repositories,
changing from one release to the next - see
http://www.gronmayer.com/it/.  One of the advantages of the web UI was
that it was possible to hide that completely from the user (by defining
a downloadable ".install" file that specified both the required
repository and the package name), whereas installing the same package
using the native app would require first going into preferences and
adding the relevant repository.

But if we assume that GTA04 will mostly be provided through the Debian
archive, with perhaps one or two long-term additional repositories
(cf. debian-multimedia), that advantage of the web UI disappears and I
think we're better with a native app.

(In its defence, I guess the per-release repository structure was an
attempt to solve the stable SDK problem currently being discussed at
https://lwn.net/Articles/489689/.  Unfortunately there are no completely
easy answers....)

> I think it's important to see screenshots, reviews and comments about the 
> application. It is also important that all the apps are working out of the box 
> (no fiddling with configuration files should be needed).


> And last - it should 
> be installable with one click.

That's unnecessary overspecification.  I agree that it needs to be very
easy.  But I doubt you can do it with a single click - given that you
also want be able to select a potential app and then select "show me the
reviews for this app".  And two or three clicks would be fine, if they
were clear and easy.

> You might want to check how it works in qtmoko. The app catalogue is here [1]. 
> Once you click on the screenshot is downloads the .deb and launches dpkg.

That's nice.  But I'd still prefer the same as a native app.  With the
web approach, how do any required dependencies get installed?


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