Andrew Clunis

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The Free Software Distribution Model

Someone on KernelTrap claimed that Windows has a superior distribution model for third party software.

This is a faulty claim, on several levels:

  • There is no real standard for application distribution on Windows, save from a few common idioms and libraries like InstallShield.

  • On GNU/Linux, the distribution model tends to be entirely different. Users generally get all their software, in the entire stack all the way from the kernel to the desktop applications, from a single distributor. Thus, there is a common infrastructure for dependency management, filesystem structure, and configuration file management. Not only does this normalized interface for software management allow for a cleaner user experience in managing and updating their software, but the distributor can perform integration testing. The fact that all this code is Free Software is what enables this distribution model.

apt-get install vlc


I suspect that the issues they had (complaining that VLC was difficult to install, etc.) probably arose from them attempting to use stuff that simply wasn’t ready yet at the time. If one elects to be on the bleeding edge, expect a bit of pain.