Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recycling Linux Technology

Geekspeak warning. (Imagine a campy robot waving arms about)..

One of the things that Linux does in credibly well is package management.

In a Windows world, to update a system completely, could take a full day. The problem has been that licensing makes keeping things up to date in the one place "problematic" (a polite way of saying "Fornicating Stupid"). Even worse, applications often check for updates when you start trying to use the application. So you open up Firefox for example, and then find it's going to be another 3 minutes before you can actually start browsing the Internet, because the damn thing has found an update.

Enter in Steam. A model whereby applications (mainly games) can be delivered and updated from one central place. I suspect they use an Apple AppStore type of agreement whereby vendors agree to certain terms and licensing if they want to use the Steam platform for distribution.

Sound like a Linux package manager to anyone?

What's really astounding though is that Steam have recently announced the release of a public beta of Steam on Linux... And people are excited! Instead of working with open tools already available to solve the problems, and making the changes they need and contributing those changes back to the community, Steam chose to port their own software - as closed source - to Linux.

And people are excited. Why? Steam has the potential to bring a sense of commercial viability to a Linux platform. But should we really be heralding a closed source distribution model as a positive when such tools already exist on the platform?

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