If you've been following my articles as of late, you'll notice that I've been exploring (obsessing over) the world of Windows-based package managers. It's an interesting concept that the Linux world gets to enjoy to great success--the ability to download and install applications via a single program, much like how you would grab a song on iTunes or an application off its App Store.
In last week's Murphy's Law, I postulated that this exact combination of one-button glam plus a functional, community-driven application repository would be a surefire way to increase open-source awareness amongst average computer users. That, and it would offer power users a better way to grab, install, and manage large bundles of applications on any number of individual or networked PCs.
A number of you seemed to agree. That's great. But as we all saw in this week's freeware roundup, the state of the package manager market for the Windows operating system is tragic at best. It's difficult, if not impossible, to find a working package manager that fulfills the three main criteria for usefulness: updated applications, minimal downloading errors, and a halfway-decent GUI.
What's the holdup in Windows Package Manager development? Are they really that tricky to create and maintain? And why should users ultimately care about these kinds of applications? To get the answers to these tough questions, I turned to BennyP--creator and sole maintainer of the WinPackMan package manager application. He's currently caught up in bringing this once-popular piece of software back from the dead, making him an ideal candidate for learning more about what's going on in the trenches of third-party Windows package manager development.
If you're ready to discover the dark secrets that separate Linux and Windows package managers... click the jump!
Rules, rules, rules. It's one of the few things the open-source world has in common with its closed alternative. There are rules for downloading open-source projects. Rules for using open-source projects. Rules for distributing open-source projects. Rules for modify... ok. You get the idea.
It's one thing for open-source developers to define the legal parameters associated with the tinkering of their pet projects. That's the pill you swallow when you agree to download these bits of community-driven software. But that's also where the control factor ends. You can run open-source software on any platform you like. Depending on the parameters of the license, you can even populate your favorite open-source software applications to a new platform of your choosing--like a little bee in a digital garden, if you will.
Flying over the friendly skies of the closed-source world tells a different tale. Microsoft makes the rules here. Or, at least, as many rules as it can get away with making in relation to which of its operating systems you can use and how you can go about using them. Want to run a ton of programs at once? That's a license issue. Want access to additional functionality? Buy a better license. The list goes on, but it doesn't just end at the software level. A recent report has revealed Microsoft's intentions for Windows 7 in the netbook space, but this isn't the first time Microsoft has demanded that hardware manufacturers bow to a certain specification in order to bundle its operating systems along for the ride.
Check out Microsoft's full restrictions after the jump!
I normally stay out of the Linux conversations because it's like placing oneself between two packs of rabid, fanboy wolves. Not that being enthusiastic about your operating system of choice is a bad thing. It's just a lot of flame for one meager columnist to handle.
That said, I couldn't help but notice a number of articles passing around the Web this week, praising Linux for pushing past the one-percent adoption rate for desktop operating systems. Huh? One percent? That's like throwing a ticker-tape parade for a one-year-old. I mean, kudos to Linux for making it this far and all, but I think that people are selectively focusing on the "concept" of the number a bit too much. Because when you dig a little bit deeper into the statistics, you'll find that Linux's big "Achievement Unlocked" isn't really that big of a deal at all.