Linux on the desktop has seen some significant successes over the years, from improvements with hardware detection to user adoption. Yet despite these successes, the single sticking point I find myself arguing with people over the most is the idea that existing methods of software installation are ideal.
Installing software with most distributions is pretty brain-dead simple. With command line options and a variety of GUI solutions to make the process even easier, I genuinely don't think theres a problem with the ease of software installation.
There is however, the issue of software discovery.
Dude, where's my software?
For moderately experienced Linux enthusiasts, most software is a stone's throw away. But even the more experienced desktop Linux users have been known to discover a new application from the most inconvenient sources.
Often these discoveries take place long after the user has given up locating such an application when they needed it most. Where this becomes truly problematic is when the application was available from the software repositories used with the user's own distro all along. Yet the app went totally unheard of because the user didnt know which category it was featured in!
This is hardly an isolated incident, mind you. I can count at least seven individuals who I know personally who have been in this situation. Is it office, business or communication related? Also, how is the performance rated? So many questions often going unanswered.
Well, at one time there was a solution to this problem on the Linux platform. Most people within the Linux community scorned the solution at the time, due to strong opinions of the Linux distro this utility was bundled with. Regardless, the utility itself has yet to be matched.
The utility was known as Click and Run.
Enter Linspire's CNR software installation utility
Back when Linspire was still known as Lindows, they introduced a software installation utility that changed the way people looked at installing software. Click and Run (CNR) at the time, was the simplest way to discover and install new software applications ever seen on any platform.
Sadly thanks to the evolution of the company that created the utility, CNR of today is not nearly as compelling as it once was. Now its merely another application that must first be installed, then used to install software. It uses basically the same methods employed already by a number of popular Debian-based distros.
With the exception of making applications (such as LinDVD, among a few other proprietary applications) available without much searching, there is really no clear advantage that I can see.
Perhaps the final nail in CNR's evolutionary coffin is the missing software aisles that were big with the original CNR utility built into the Linspire 5.0 release. At that time, not only could a user keep track of which software is in their preferred list, they were free to share this list with others.
Sadly since the move over to the new CNR utility, I have yet to see evidence of this function.
Clearly there was something quite user friendly here. Seems to me that the idea was right at one time, now it simply needs to evolve with the times.
From CNR to a Web based App Store
A headache I used find myself frustrated with was a lack of applications designed to fit certain needs with specific levels of functionality.
Sure, more often than not there was something GTK- or QT-based out there that would give me the basics of what I was looking for. However in rare instances, I found myself needing software with a more razor-focus to handle specific tasks.
Then Adobe AIR came out for Linux. Almost immediately I found myself running a multitude of applications on my PC that were unavailable previously. It took some searching, but there are some fantastic AIR apps out there that are worth a look.
For various web site endeavors, I found myself using an app known as Market Samurai. I also run specific apps for Twitter and Facebook.
Productivity apps I fell in love with include "Klok" and Present.ly's own AIR application. In each instance, the natively available Linux software did not hold a candle to what was offered for Adobe AIR. Not even close! Adobe AIR really opened new doors for me.