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GitHub Should Start an App Store (ankshilp.com)
814 points by quaintdev on Jan 31, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 291 comments



> They already host source code of millions of apps. Release integration should be trivial to implement.

Release integration is trivial for anyone. It's the easiest and most irrelevant part of the app stores.

> Unlike Google they actually listen to their users. They were awesome during youtube-dl debacle.

And controversial on others, like shutting down Popcorn Time's repository. As any other, they'll listen if there's enough outcry.

> Backed by Microsoft. Microsoft has been playing good by the developers for years now. I trust them more than Apple and Google.

This is situational and opportunistic. It can change any day. In fact, managing an important app store is exactly one way to re-(un)-balance this relationship.

> They could finally give the desktop the app store it deserves

Microsoft won't have GitHub compete with the Microsoft Store and its newer efforts like winget. It would unermine their unifying vision that has been in the works for years for no benefit.

> This is a minor but users will be able to raise issues with developers directly instead writing comments over app pages which I think you would agree completely suck.

Sure, lets pipe user feedback directly into GitHub issues. Good luck with that if you have a hundred issues a day.

I don't think there's a single angle that would paint this as a good idea. Phone manufacturers like Samsung are in a much much better position to try. And indeed they have been trying an failing.


>This is situational and opportunistic. It can change any day. In fact, managing an important app store is exactly one way to re-(un)-balance this relationship.

I agree. Sorting huge, multinational, publicly traded companies in friends and enemies list is so obviously bogus and immature that it baffles me that this is so prevalent.

Microsoft is not your enemy. It's not your friend (unless you're one of the shareholders). It's profit driven and amoral. They'll always line up with whatever they believe will maximize profits because that their entire reason for existing.

Apparently Microsoft decided that being more FLOSS friendly (after decades of trying to annihilate these projects, lest we forget) because they decided that it would favor them in the long run.

If they ever decide that they stand to make more profit by throwing the whole github ethos under the bus they will. A few people will make strongly worded blog posts that will reach the top of HN. A few employees might even quit and loudly slap the door on the way out. Then probably nothing will happen.


It's repeated very often that companies maximize shareholder value, but that's not really true. Companies follow the personal interests of their management and employees, in proportion to their power within the institution, which sometimes involves shareholder value.


Ye. The belief in the "invisible hand" is strong. Boards and executives are not more rational than employees in general. Why would they not do things because they e.g. feel good about it or want revenge - like they were some super human well oiled machine.


Furthermore (and I think this is the strongest evidence), if companies were really "amoral impersonal shareholder value maximizers," enterprise sales would consist of leaving a box outside their front door and billing them a day later. The fact that enterprise sales is the exact opposite of that, opposed to it in every form, is very strong evidence against the robot-corporate way of looking at it. Of the many techniques for getting corporations to do things, as practiced by professional influencers of corporate choices, all begin and end with relationships. Not relationships with the company; relationships with its members.


In my personal and admittedly startup-prevalent experience with boards, I definitely think they operate more emotionally than most might think. Even companies I’ve worked with in the double to triple digit millions of worth function on far more emotional and interpersonal levels than most might think. Sure, money is the major motivator, but it’s all a machine driven by humans that are gut-based emotion bags.


It's not just startups. I've seen execs at old-school companies act worse than a 5 year old, alas.

People are not rational actors, and the myth that we are is incredibly harmful.


And here I though it's an obvious point. Board and executives are not more rational than employees in general, but are also as much - if not more - constrained in their actions. They can't just do whatever they want, not if they want to keep their jobs and high salaries, or hold any similar jobs in the future. The part where a company becomes an amoral profit maximizer is a combination of:

- Interests of the shareholders and other stakeholders, who most likely cannot agree on most of their goals, but they will agree on "money = good";

- Competitors who wait for the company to make a mistake they can exploit to get ahead, or possibly kill the company

Combined, these forces all but ensure the company has no choice but to be a amoral profit maximizer, or die.

A different analogy, that doubles down on "corporation is essentially an AI" view, but may make it easier to explain the main point: if you apply Maslow's pyramid to companies, most of them do not have their Physiological and Safety levels met. They operate in survival mode. Rarely, a company "feels" secure enough to ponder long-term visions or some ideals that aren't directly survival-related.


And yet this AI company can be undone by a single good salesman who's friends with someone in Purchasing.


How and why? I don't get the point about salesmen here.

Companies are not perfect optimizers. Arguably not even that strong. If someone in Purchasing is willing to reward their buddy instead of picking the best vendor for the job, well, that happens. It's noise. Doesn't change the overall behavior of the company. And it only happens within limits - do it too much, and the person in Purchasing will find themselves fired, maybe even charged with a crime. If they're too good, maybe they can kill their own company - much like a sickness can kill a human. Other companies will then be more vigilant.

Also worth noting that companies strive to improve their process and develop various means of ensuring and enforcing accountability - this, in essence, is trying to reduce the "noise" of individual humans within the larger AI of the company.


People who professionally influence companies, i.e. those whose job it is to understand corporate decision-making, focus almost exclusively on the dynamics of personal relationships. Salesmen, B2B marketers and even activists all use human behavior as the foundation of their techniques. This thing about corporations being monolithic being-like entities is a "theory without a practice;" we can look to the people who empirically deal with corporations to see that they do not find it useful to think that way.


Given higher-ups are either invested to some extent, or otherwise feel their prospects are aligned with the stock price because the investors will have them out if it doesn't do well enough, so I'd say the considerations always involve shareholder value. It might not be the only factor, and sometimes other factors win out, but it is always a factor.


But there are strong incentive structures in place that introduce a correlation between the interests of these individuals and the company's success at driving up share price or even making money. It's not as straightforward as that in reality, but a noisy profit/shareprice maximizing agent is not the worst approximation of a corporation you could come up with.


This really is a generational divide, those of US that were around for the 90's and early 00's Microsoft crap still have a bad taste for the "new Microsoft" that claims to love FLOSS (while still showing many signs of EEE.. )

During that time Google was very friendly to FLOSS, and open protocols (remember when GChat was just a XMPP client)

Today MS and Google seems to have flipped, Google now is fully embracing Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, where MS seems to be attempting to wind that back though with mixed success


I have developed a rekindled hatred for M$ in the past few weeks trying to install firefox on a fresh installation of windows 10. I counted 5 seperate scare tactics employed by M$ to keep you using Edge. I thought they were successfully sued for monopolistically coupling Internet Explorer to Windows and had a flow in their installation menu's for installing competing browsers. I was surprised that this is now totally missing!

From what I could see it was also difficult to switch the office suite. My OEM installed trial versions of word, excel, etc. which were set to be opened by default on all related file extensions. Switching to libreoffice was a PITA, I couldnt find a simple, one-click way to change all these. I had to go over them one-by-one.. (.doc, .docx, .dochtml, .docxhtml, .xls, .xlsx, .xlshtml, .xslsxhtml,....)


Don't forget about the shady and underhanded ways to prevent you from making a local account for a new installation of Windows. The first screen you see asks for a WiFi password, and I assume that it is going to start downloading updates in the background. Instead, it prompts you to enter an email address for a Microsoft account. The "Learn More" button says that you can make an offline account later, but right now they'd really like to have your personal information before letting you continue.

The only way to actually make a local account is to either (a) refuse to connect to WiFi until after an account is made or (b) disconnect the router while it is trying to talk to Microsoft. Option (a) is inaccessible by the time you realize that there is a problem, and option (b) is ridiculous and needs to be found on third-party suggestions. All so that Microsoft can pull in another email address.


Oh yes! I am just glad I knew about this behaviour beforehand and didn't let the laptop connect to my WiFi. My dad would've fallen into this trap _for sure_.

Windows 10 installation has become a maze which only the really savvy can escape with their privacy somewhat in tact.


What kind of version did you try to install?

I never had this bullshit on PRO versions, but I'm connected through cable tho.


This was on a home edition, pre installed on a new Lenovo laptop. Looking it up, this happens on all Home versions, but hasn't yet spread to Professional.


The thing to experience here, is to try using Google sites with Edge: Microsoft has definitely been pushing people to use Edge, but it pales in comparison to how heavily Google abuses their web properties to shove Chrome down peoples' throats.

Back when I used Gmail, I'd open my email and get not one, but TWO separate things, one a popup box, and one a top bar, telling me I should switch to Chrome, and dismissing it never stuck. It'd come back in a week or so. Even once Edge started running on Chrome code, Google stepped up writing new tricks to claim that Edge was "less secure" because it didn't direct telemetry straight to Google servers.

Google's underhanded push with Chrome has hurt everyone, and unfortunately, Microsoft probably can't "target just Chrome" in retaliating against such messaging, so Firefox gets hit too.


Since I abandoned Windows for Linux, my opinion of Microsoft has improved dramatically. Windows has to be one of their worst, if not their worst product. GitHub and Azure are both quite good, and Office is at least OK. All their Android apps and Android integration are excellent. The new Xbox and related services are even quite good. Just every time I'm forced to use Windows (especially at work where I can't change any aspect of it), I'm reminded of why I hated Microsoft so much.


>>I have developed a rekindled hatred for M$ in the past few weeks trying to install firefox on a fresh installation of windows 10.

Install a Package Manager like Chocolety [1], AppGet [2] or the new "Official" one WinGet

>>I couldnt find a simple, one-click way to change all these. I had to go over them one-by-one.. (.doc, .docx, .dochtml, .docxhtml, .xls, .xlsx, .xlshtml, .xslsxhtml,....)

Yea MS has tried to bork this, but in the "Default Apps" settings page of the new "Settings" Application, there is a link called "Set Defaults by App" that makes it MUCH easier than what you did which was "Choose Default Apps by File Type"

[1] https://chocolatey.org/

[2] https://appget.net/

[3] https://github.com/microsoft/winget-cli


That's terrible and all, but you can't even really install a different browser on your phone. They're either Safari wrappers or Chrome wrappers (even Firefox).


They're all Safari wrappers on iOS because Apple deems it so. Android has no such requirements and thus when you install Firefox you're actually running Firefox.


From what I understand, that's a limitation of the iPhone and is not the case on Android.


Blame Libre installer then?


Yes, I agree. To fail to register as the default program for all the extensions you support, ideally optionally, is surely the fault of the installer not the os?

There are perhaps better anecdotes for reasons to dislike windows...


Im not sure if libreoffice is fully to blame, I don't think it is possible for applications to _change_ the default app directly themselves, they now need to link to the windows settings screen to have the user manually do it. It is a fair point that libreoffice currently fails to do even this.


These are still registry entries and are still located in the same part of the registry and still with the same way. This hasn't changed. What's changed is registering applications to show up for the new UI is a huge pain requiring multiple registry keys, however simply setting the opening application for a given filetype/protocol is quite easy: either open a .reg file with reg.exe (pops up a code window) or regedit,exe (pops up a prompt), or add the entry programmatically (silent).

Personally, I'm still annoyed that removed the File Types settings in Windows 7(?), though some of them have made their way back with the new settings.


Yeah, I was there. I have a long view and cynicism that m$ has retreated to the Embrace phase. To vastly oversimplify their governance, they're a new CEO away from Extend and Extinguish.

Lately, I love what they've been doing. Even github -- there have been disappointments, for sure, but nothing like the egregious misbehavior in the bad old days. But given their history; given Google's "do no evil" bait&switch... I don't want to hand them more power.

It'd be cool if an interested third party could build out an app store that automatically sources from github (and its competitors), though.


> It'd be cool if an interested third party could build out an app store that automatically sources from github (and its competitors), though.

That’s called a package repository and there are hundreds (thousands?) of them.

An “App Store” is a vertically integrated package repo.


There is F-droid but its success is unfortunately only moderate at best.

Element is actually in the F-droid store but the version is outdated.


Yeah, I "use" fdroid. Usually that means searching for apps, finding their download links broken, and then finding the apk on a couple skeezy-looking apk download pages and checking that they checksum the same (verifying, at best, that the skeezy sites have the same possibly hacked apk... ick)


Personally I do not look at companies for being nice, sweet, good to the world or whatever other bullshit any company will try to convince you to believe.

Do you really believe Microsoft is changing their tactics because they want to?

They needed to change.

Their goal which has always been Platform, around 12 years ago they realized it had to be open open towards everything else than Windows only. Otherwise they would be seriously under pressure.

Why do you think Azure is so popular with other platforms too, other than ms tech?

Microsoft is really really good at setting and reaching goals. They excel at it. And believe you me, that their goal is not to approve and support open source because they shifted their mindset towards it - it's because they had to - and they will make money doing it.

These statements about companies, being kind towards this or that, has to be read carefully. They are savages in the end and will do pretty much anything to win.

I worked at MS for many years. Not any longer.


Yeah, LSP may be turning out to be a good example of Microsoft going back to EEE; with a twist, though: rather than embracing a pre-existing standard, they're proposing a new one

https://github.com/emacs-lsp/lsp-mode/issues/1863#issuecomme...


> I agree. Sorting huge, multinational, publicly traded companies in friends and enemies list is so obviously bogus and immature that it baffles me that this is so prevalent.

If that's true, then why do brands exist?

For most companies, the best way to drive profit is to build a long term relationship of trust with their customers and suppliers.

Edit: this doesn't mean I'm ready to join the Microsoft/Apple/Google/Facebook/Amazon fan club, but I can see that some companies regularly behave better than others, and I'm happy to act on that reputation. Take Oracle, for example.


> I can see that some companies regularly behave better than others, and I'm happy to act on that reputation

This is a bogus line of thinking. For example, Apple have a very strong stance on privacy compared to FB and Google.

Does this mean they are more moral or trustworthy when it comes to privacy, or that you should trust them to remain focussed on privacy in the future?

Not at all! Their focus on privacy is a smart business model that they use to differentiate themselves from the competition. As soon as it stops being a smart model, or a better model presents itself, under the bus their focus on privacy will go. Apple being focussed on privacy right now should not be taken as them having a good reputation. They do not care about your privacy. They care about you buying their products. The same applies to all apparent "good" or "moral" behavior of any large company. It's not genuine morality, they don't care about the benefits to you or society at large. They just want you to generate money for them.

By all means, choose products from a company whose presented morality currently aligns with yours. But don't believe that morality is genuine, and don't get hooked on that company. Instead use them, just as they are using you, for as long as it benefits you, then dump them in a second when they inevitably change... Just as they would do to you.


Extending your line of reasoning, that would imply not just that we shouldn't fall in love with Apple, but additionally that we shouldn't avoid companies with bad reputations. Which seems bonkers to me?

Taking my Oracle example, I'm definitely never going to recommend my company adopts Oracle. Given their historical behaviour, it's just too much risk!

This position that all companies are equally amoral seems 1. blind to reality and 2. to be throwing away useful information.

The likely actions of a company are embedded in their culture, their structure, the people who choose to work there, and the personalities of their leadership. That can all change, but you have the ability to observe that change and punish companies which violate your trust.


I feel like the trouble with this line of thinking re large consumer-facing companies is that many of their loyalty relationships are in conflict with each other, so even when they're acting in the interests of preserving trust with one group, they're undermining the trust of another.

When Github restored youtube-dl, they increased user trust while undermining media industry trust. When they pulled popcorntime, they did the reverse.

In each case, they were presumably acting rationally to preserve their relationships as best as they could. But whether or not that benefits you as an individual is more or less a toss of a coin.


Business is amoral; the system is amoral. But every player in the system must choose for every action whether to do that action or not. The actions they choose will either conform to the morals or they will not, so in the end just like the individual people that comprise them, companies are (mostly) either good or bad. There’s nothing that says a company, even a publicly-traded one, must not exist for anything but profit.


A company is not a static entity and its "morals" will change must faster than those of an individual. Moreover nothing says that the management of a company must act based on their innate morals. Lying for personal benefit is a perfectly valid human trait. Humans are also very good at justifying anything we do that benefits us as aligning with our moral compass. So in the end a company must be assumed to have no moral compass in the future even if it has one now. Giving a company power now based on its moral compass will just mean it has power to abuse in the future when its moral compass changes.

Microsoft and Google being recent examples of companies shifting their moral compass fairly quickly.


>It's profit driven and amoral. They'll always line up with whatever they believe will maximize profits because that their entire reason for existing.

That's both unfair, and quite frankly lets companies like Boeing off the hook. Executives get paid egregious amounts of money to set the direction of companies. Yes, some do focus solely on profit and it's generally obvious when they do. Some focus on making customers happy at nearly all costs. And there is everything in between. Of course management at all those companies believe their approach will make the company money, but plenty aren't solely focused on maximizing profits, I'd argue MS included.


> Some focus on making customers happy at nearly all costs.

I'm very sceptical that such a company exists (at least of any size beyond a small restaurant or similar). Can you give an example?


The funny thing about these "reasons" the article writes, is that it does not give any reason why GitHub would want to create such an app store. Most the reasons stated are basically what we will supposedly benefit. There is literally no reason from GitHub's point of view why they would be interested in creating such a product to begin with.

Of course, there might be reasons form Microsoft to create an alternative to the App Stores say for a gaming marketplace etc. But specifically for GitHub I cannot see why they would be interested in the overhead.


GitHub is no longer just a source code management company. They've started their horizontal integration, and are firmly in the more general "Developer Tools" category. This would be another addition to their horizontal integration, and increasing the amount of the development pipeline they're involved in.

The specific advantage is that it makes switching providers really hard. You develop in Atom, store the code in GitHub, use GitHub Actions for CI/CD (if that's viable, I'm not super familiar with the product), use GitHub to manage the released artifacts, and publish them to GitHub's app store.

That makes it really appealing to buy because you don't have to talk to 7 different vendors and duct tape their solutions together with Python scripts. You talk to 1 vendor, who gives you all the pieces, and the pieces are already able to communicate natively.

It makes it really appealing to sell because once you buy in, it's really hard to get back out. Imagine trying to replace all of those components, and the developer time you lose as people get used to the new systems and how they all work together. Bonus points if you can only publish to the GitHub app store from GitHub installations. GitLab can do a lot of those things, but they don't have an app store.

As others pointed out though, it would compete with Microsoft's existing app store. I would not be terribly surprised to see some kind of integration between GitHub and MS's app store, or Azure and their app store though.


It also ignores the question of how:

Apple - Blocked

Android - Pointless without a drop in replacement for Google Services.

Windows- This is possible, but Windows doesn't really have a distribution problem. There's no real need here.

Linux - Again possible, but no real need


To note though, running Android everyday without GMS is very doable, both MicroG and Huawei do it.


Why would "Apple" be blocked? You can run arbitrary software on macOS.


Sure, but that runs into the same issue as Windows in that there's no real need.


[flagged]


> And soon that will also change on macOS.

You have a source for that claim?


It would be interesting for GitHub because they have a large developer community who push to these app stores already, so they have the dev audience, just not the consumer.

They charge said developers a few dollars a month per seat. GitHub could somehow instead be taking a 0%-20% cut topline revenue from some of the apps they host.

Lots of work to make that happen the upside might make it worth while.


The devs are the consumers. So it can be a niche store?

I dont know what a normal person would be doing on github.


What I meant is - GitHub could create a Google Play store. The supply side (Devs) are on GitHub in abundance, so they could have a big catalog.

If GitHub could somehow solve the demand side (Phone users) they'd be sorted.


And you can’t see the problem with creating a situation where Microsoft is in direct competition with all the ways you can already deploy this code?

That light at the end of this tunnel is an oncoming train. Not freedom.


It's a large pile of open source software. It's able to be redistributed freely, by design. Everyone is in the position to take advantage of the catalog, if they can somehow solve the demand side -- that's what the entire problem of a store is about. F-Droid has been trying for years!


Companies host their private code in private repos.

I’m not saying it’s the best thing for GitHub to do, but...

Let’s say 15% of Android top 1000 apps are sitting in private repos on GitHub. With their build tools GitHub make it possible to automatically push builds to this imaginary store, they offer devs 50% discount on whatever cut google take if on the play store.


You're right, but you don't need to be GitHub for that. Any dev can create an app that integrates with GH, or any other source control service for that matter.


Great. I will just have to click on "Fork" to make a scam.


>Sure, lets pipe user feedback directly into GitHub issues. Good luck with that if you have a hundred issues a day.

Average user is less than poorly educated about technology. Their level of competence when raising a bug is simply pathetic, a lot of times. I manage an email server for a family, they write to me "email doesn't work", I check issue and respond "domain should be gmail.com not gmail,com" (notice the comma).

This reminded me how sqlite team was getting emails or calls at night, from some random people because another software was crashing. User went to "about/legal" and found license of SQLite, so obviously they decided to contact SQLite and complain on bad software. https://github.com/mackyle/sqlite/blob/3cf493d/src/os.h#L52-...

Now imagine facebook api breaks backwards compatibility, so you get 1000 of new issues in a day with title "broken", "doesn't work", "shit is crahing so gave 1* fix it now I might review it later".


None of the arguments make their suggestion(s) a good idea. It solves none of the problems of the App Store as it just offloads the work onto Github (Microsoft) who can also de-platform who ever they want on their centralised App Store.

It would be business as usual under a different Big Tech name.


> This is a minor but users will be able to raise issues

I don't think people understand what an average (and below average) cell phone user is like. Just read some of the App store reviews (fraction of the people that use apps actually write reviews).

This pipe-dreaming would come crashing down from being a minor issue to major, the wrath of an average user is insane.


This is my favourite example of why letting random users send in complaints is bad: https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2016/11/14/i-have-toyota-corola/


>> Microsoft has been playing good by the developers for years now. I trust them more than Apple and Google. > This is situational and opportunistic. It can change any day.

And the way they run a store is consistently horrible that it feels impossible to make worse. Full of horror stories, bans and rejections, sometimes even random pick deletions since Xbox Live Indie Games days, to at least as recent as just few quarters ago.

There are reasons why people choose iOS, Android, .msi file download from GitHub and so on over Microsoft Store.


> Sure, lets pipe user feedback directly into GitHub issues. Good luck with that if you have a hundred issues a day.

Given the garbage-grade issues I have often seen from professional engineers, this sounds like a complete nightmare.


I was definitely not expecting user feedback to go in as GitHub issues. I should have been more clear of what I was expecting.


Anywhere users can put feedback that they think might get to devs, they will.


>> hone manufacturers like Samsung are in a much much better position to try. And indeed they have been trying an failing.

Samsung is bothering me. I have an S8 and they want to replace all the standard Google apps - including the basic text messageing one - with Samsung equivalents.

It's not clear why and I haven't gone looking. It feels like they're just trying to displace Google and be another company reading my messages and monitoring my activity. I figure I don't need another one of those in my life. If their intent is to help me by offering privacy respecting alternatives they have not done so. I'm also completely unaware of any app-store Samsung may have beyond a place for them to push their versions of these apps.

Am I wrong? Should I be looking closer at what Samsung has to offer?


Oems for android apps often have their own contacts, dialer, calendar, and home apps. Usually this is to provide a differentiated experience, not to surveil you. Some are very good... Even better than the stock android experience. Others are terrible. Privacy is all over the board (except that most are using your Google account for storage so Google is almost always there). The vendor app stores often have device optimized apps and sometimes have better pricing. An example would be adding support for the curved edge on many Samsung devices...


Samsung isn't much better than Google on the privacy side. They're just replacing all the standard apps to make them more in line with OneUI in terms of UX.

But things like Samsung health send data home too unfortunately.

They are stepping back from cloud services a bit now and letting Microsoft step in, also not privacy driven but more financial I think.


Samsung security, privacy and general software qualify are all a joke as far as I can tell and it’s amusing anyone would put them in even the same ballpark as Google.

Dog bites man is not news, and neither are most of the Samsung software travesties ranging from software supply chain debacles to TV spying to data breaches.

Nobody even cares in the tech community because no one expects anything of them.


We were just talking about privacy, in that sense I think Samsung is roughly at the same level (considering it can't get much worse than Google :) ).

I think Google is doing a good job with their Pixel phones indeed in terms of security, though they need longer support IMO. Samsung seems to just call everything 'knox' but not really specify what exactly they're doing. So from a security point of view I agree.


> considering it can't get much worse than Google :)

What? It can get way worse than Google. For all the privacy invasive things that Google does it’s one of the least bad. Unlike most companies that collect data it doesn’t directly sell user data, and it has a good history of avoiding security vulnerabilities that leak data.


Avoiding vulnerabilities that leak data to others except themselves you mean :)

I suppose the Chinese state and the apps they control like WeChat is worse in terms of what they do with the data (this social credit score etc). You're right. I was mainly thinking about the collection itself, not what is done with it.

What I mind mainly about Google is that they use it as payment for their services but don't provide any option to opt out and just pay with money. Though I suppose even if they did that at this stage, I wouldn't trust them.


> I think Samsung is roughly at the same level (considering it can't get much worse than Google :) )

Well, what about Huawei who want to send your data to China?


True but Huawei is no longer a player on western markets. I didn't really consider them.


After installing NoRoot Firewall on my phone, I discovered that every single Samsung app was phoning home: camera, gallery, contacts, bixby, health, messaging, etc. On the upside, I was able to remove 99% of the pre-installed apps without any special tools. The only one that refused to go was bixy (and no way to reprogram the dedicated button), but at least it can be "disabled" and denied all permissions via Android's app manager.


> On the upside, I was able to remove 99% of the pre-installed apps without any special tools.

I wish I could do this. I have 32 GB space on my phone. Half of it is wasted on pre-installed junk I cannot delete because "it came with the phone". This involves games, or something like "Booking.com", and so forth.


> Samsung isn't much better than Google on the privacy side.

Samsung is vastly worse. Consider off the bat that South Korea has wildly different (read ‘permissive and lax’) laws about police and government access to stored data.


> Microsoft won't have GitHub compete with the Microsoft Store and its newer efforts like winget. It would unermine their unifying vision that has been in the works for years for no benefit.

There has never been any indication that Microsoft would unilaterally shut down Windows software. If fact they are uniquely open in terms of modern proprietary OS's.


Windows Phone, Windows 8 RT, Windows 10 S (later S Mode). There is still a somewhat hidden option to enable sideloading (presumably for msix files?).

Yes, so far they've ended up backpedaling every time they've tried to enforce the store, but it's pretty clear what their intentions are.


The blog post I guess was referring to android ecosystem...


Microsoft tripped over themselves scrambling to make advertising revenue as fast as possible and stymied the development of their operating system to do so. They have turned the user of Windows into the product. They are pulling a Facebook/Google and the author has the audacity to say they trust Microsoft more than Apple? Give me a break.


> Sure, lets pipe user feedback directly into GitHub issues. Good luck with that if you have a hundred issues a day.

This honestly sounds like it could be a feature with the right automation. Devs are often separated from customers by multiple layers of "flappers" who's sole job is to triage, organize, and perform manual resolution of customer issues.

If your app is large enough to receive hundreds of issues a day, then it's likely there are entire teams of "flappers". What if that could be entirely automated such that customer complaints were grouped by pain point, and automatically ranked based on how many customers are affected and how severely they are affected?

This seems like an oddly practical problem to solve in 2021.


So far we have not been to find a way to automate this sort of triage unfortunately. Also, most developers I know are quite happy that there is someone between them and the customers.


> Microsoft won't have GitHub compete with the Microsoft Store and its newer efforts like winget. It would unermine their unifying vision that has been in the works for years for no benefit.

Perhaps they could integrate github and winget/snap (for the linux side).

Like, here your Github release page, just one extra click and you can automatically publish to winget (for Windows) and to snap (for Linux).


> Sure, lets pipe user feedback directly into GitHub issues. Good luck with that if you have a hundred issues a day.

There's a more fundamental issue: GitHub issues are for developers to report bugs and file feature-requests, they aren't intended for user support, even if that's sometimes how they're used.


I agree with you! With everything that you wrote! However, more stores the merrier! We have also amazon store


The natural solution would seem to be building the github store and the microsoft store differently - Microsoft store could be the quality-controlled, guaranteed by microsoft space while github store could be more like an open bazaar.


> And controversial on others, like shutting down Popcorn Time's repository.

What's the controversy? Popcorn Time IS illegal. Butter-desktop however is not, and is still active on GitHub.


> Release integration is trivial for anyone. It's the easiest and most irrelevant part of the app stores.

Go on...


If you think Microsoft wont turn their back and get on the ban/censorship train like any other company I believe that would be a mistake. They will have some "woke" employees and journalists grill the executives and then they will cave to mob rule just like the rest.


Is hand-wringing over "woke" bogeymen the next evolution of grousing unironically about "SJWs"?


I think it is, and it's also a useful conversational marker.

As soon as someone starts complaining about "woke" and "SJWs" and "cancel culture" and so on, I know I can just switch off and disengage, as anything they have to say on the topic will be some reactionary bullshit they're parroting at me.


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The first thing would be for someone to actually define "woke", as opposed to slinging it around as a conveniently-nebulous catch-all to describe people they're opposed to (see also "liberal" and "conservative"). What is the woke manifesto?

If you have something to say, then please just say it without couching it behind vague terms and "you can connect the dots yourself" conspiratorial thinking.


The American right has spent the past 35 years inventing scary new names for the same nebulous concept of a Marxist horde threatening to prevent them from speaking honestly.

It’s been known as “political correctness”, “social justice warriors”, “wokeness” and certainly a bunch of other names. The fundamental premise doesn’t change because it’s rooted in some deeper fear.


Do you think that no one has ever unironically used "politically correct", "social justice warrior", or "woke" to describe themselves or their opinions?

I'm not saying that the response to it isn't rooted in some deeper fear, but that doesn't mean that the phenomenon they are afraid of doesn't exist.


My first exposure to the term "social justice" was several years ago, when a family member began working with local jails and businesses, personally visiting and establishing relationships with inmates, and working to help reduce recidivism by arranging jobs for former inmates. I have never heard the addendum "warrior" added as a self-description, and have only ever heard it applied as a term of mockery from the right.


> I have never heard the addendum "warrior" added as a self-description, and have only ever heard it applied as a term of mockery from the right.

I'm reluctant to name specific individuals, but there are people who embrace the "SJW" term for themselves. For example, the flair next to the username of this semi-famous developer[0] is a self-description that he is known for.[1]

Perhaps you could argue that he is being ironic, but it is a self-description and he certainly doesn't mean to mock people who identify that way.

[0] https://old.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/2fddvg/im_matthew_ga...

[1] https://ostatic.com/blog/matthew-garrett-quits-kernel-to-do-...


Of course it exists, but for decades it's been cast into a mold that pattern-matches a longstanding reactionary anxiety.

Just like "cosmopolitan" is a neutral/positive adjective by its dictionary definition, but has a very negative connotation in certain right-wing and/or anti-Semite circles.


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> if you do not think the kinds of behavior we are seeing where people's lives are being ruined by mob justice are anything other than "bogeymen"

That's not how I took their response at all. I believe they were specifically picking up your derogatory use of the term "woke". If you meant "illiberal", why not use that term? It's far less ambiguous and less loaded.


Check the author of the comment you are referring to, it's not me. For what it's worth, I do not use the term "woke" for the reason you mentioned, but if someone asks what definition I would apply to it if I had to (as I was here) what I wrote is my answer.


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The thesis of the illiberal left isn't that universality under the law shouldn't exist, the free speech shouldn't exist, that individualism shouldn't exist, that color-blindness shouldn't exist, that equality of opportunity shouldn't exist, or anything else.

The thesis is that those things don't exist in the real world. And it goes further than that, by saying that those things cannot exist in our society unless major changes happen. But the goal of abandoning liberalism is not actually to abandon those things, but to actually really realize them.

The thesis is that our current systems are not principled either in their means or their ends.

And it is true. Free speech is proportional to your means to challenge threats to your livelihood. Rule of law, universality under the law, equality of opportunity, simply do not exist - depending mainly on your socio-economic status but also on other axes such as racial perception of the individual by society, and so on.

Equally, the thesis isn't that we shouldn't have color-blindness, simply that the current social and material reality makes this impossible. As a result of this, attempts/pretensions at color-blindness simply make the problem worse.

If you didn't notice, the conclusion of the lefitst project after gender equality became progressive weakening and then almost abolition of gender - and I mean this in the strictest sociological sense of gender as the perception of a set of social attributes related to sex. The exact same set of theories are applied to race, before racial abolition there must be a realization of the existence of racial identity (which is indeed the definition of race in the leftist sense - racial identity is completely orthogonal to traits and genetics, it is indeed a completely cultural and social phenomenon and process), then true racial equality, then essentially complete racial abolition.

Systems that actually provide real equality of opportunity will always provide actually equitable collective outcomes on the average.

Equally, the leftist opposition is not to markets themselves. The leftist opposition is to our current set of property relations and to the relationships of productions. Attempts to change those when the time is not opportune have been disastrous, so the aim is to compensate and slowly work towards actually fixing them using state intervention that ancillary limit the freedom of the free market. But there is no inherent opposition to markets at all.

This worldview is only a few decades younger than classical liberalism itself, and started with the disappointed third estate of the French Revolution. Put simply, the thesis is that classical liberalism failed to achieve its promises of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and that making good on those promises requires more careful and less idealistic theories of society and social change than the idealist ones of classical liberalism.

I just thought you would enjoy not arguing against strawmen.


Well articulated and a good example of why one ought to be able to cleanly argue both sides of an argument if one expects to be taken seriously.

I would take issue with your first point: many of those who ascribe to these theories believe that the principles you mention like free speech are inherently platonic: they cannot be achieved in any meaningful sense, regardless of what is done, due to the inherent nature of human beings. The measures you refer to often do not have the goal of bringing about justice through mechanisms other than coercion of society against its inherent nature (Ie, by force.) So I would argue that many abandon the goal of achieving them in the first place due to their unattainability. Ironically, honest liberals acknowledge the realities of the difficulty of ever attaining them in full - however the liberalist approach is that there is no other moral effort other than to try to close the gap as small as reality will permit, and that ultimately the method of steady, incremental progress towards attaining these things will in fact result in the best of all possible worlds.


I certainly agree that a lot of those ideals are platonic, though not at all. It's important to note that I'm only limiting myself to those arguments for the purposes of the argument.

I also agree that steady, incremental progress has a lot of value, and that there is probably a bit more improvement that is feasible within the liberal framework, which is why I'm glad to work with liberals on those.

The issue I have with the liberal perspective on this is that most of the imperfection (or gross deficiency, depending on the specific aspect) ultimately originates in economics, both socially and economically. The result of this is that (reluctantly) I had to recognize that these deficiencies are not solvable within the liberal framework, as it presupposes the economic and social relations that cause the issues. That said, I don't think that this change of framework shouldn't be done incrementally, if such a thing is at all possible.

On the moral side, though arguing morals of the internet quickly gets hairy, the leftist argument (this one I consider incomplete), is that there is quite some absurdity in claiming that using coercion for the goal of changing social relations in a way that will clearly improve society, since liberal society itself is ultimately based on massive amounts of coercion, which is reproduced by the perpetuation of the current framework.

I'd also take issue with the idea that society has an inherent nature which social change butts against. Indeed, not only are the mechanisms for social change, coercive as they may be, themselves a part of society and not extrinsic to it, but there is very little in the way of inherent nature as far as society is concerned, as society itself has seen almost total change in a great many ways as the relationships between the self, the social, and the material changed.

That said, I certainly understand your position, and my goal wasn't really to attempt to debate which viewpoint is right - not only is it that I cannot fully do them justice, but the nuances of of each one of our contentions I think merit a full thread or more by themselves. I just think a lot of liberals do not really understand the illiberal left at all. I think the peak of this was the Peterson vs Zizek debate, where Peterson read the Communist Manifesto once, and then operated in idées reçues for the actual positions of the illiberal left, in the process completely missing the point and leading to a non-debate.


I don't understand how I was arguing with a strawman, when your entire argument is explaining WHY the left is illiberal. I said that the illiberal left differs from liberals in that they don't, for example, find color-blindness to be a reasonable strategy for eliminating racism. You go on to explain why the illiberal left doesn't find color-blindness to be a reasonable strategy for eliminating racism. No strawmanning was done, nor was a moral judgment.

To address some of your points. You say

> The thesis is that those things don't exist in the real world. And it goes further than that, by saying that those things cannot exist in our society unless major changes happen

Liberalism doesn't make a claim regarding whether or not things exist or not. It is a fixed compass of procedural principles. Completely consistent of means, independent of ends, and independent of the state of things. You can't say that "free speech doesn't exist in the real world," when free speech is a procedural description of the way the system should run. If there is a failure of free speech to be applied unilaterally, that isn't a failure of liberalism, so much as an implementation error, and a failure to actually run the system as described. Your argument is like saying that "habeas corpus doesn't exist because the Japanese were interned in WW2." Habeas corpus is a procedural description of a process. What happened in WW2 wasn't habeas corpus not existing, but an implementation failure where habeas corpus was not implemented.

Much of the liberal ethos was present in the country since the get-go, and the failures of the country were actually failures of implementation. How can you have slaves, how can you treat people differently in accordance with their race, how can women not vote, in a country whose espoused ethics describe systems that would in no way tolerate these failings? The strongest leaps forward in progress have come from making the claim "this is what the liberal ethos describes, and this is how you're failing at it." MLK or the suffragettes are making the case that they're being denied their ability to act as individual actors, being denied equality under the law.

Now, compare this to the modern left.

> If you didn't notice, the conclusion of the lefitst project after gender equality became progressive weakening and then almost abolition of gender - and I mean this in the strictest sociological sense of gender as the perception of a set of social attributes related to sex.

You have described the exact opposite of what the modern left is. In the 60s-00s, the movement regarding gender equality was primarily what I would have described as a liberal movement. One that is hyper focused on individualism, and asserting that identity could exist as independently from sex or race as one wanted. If you are a girl, and you have short hair, and you like fighting, and skateboarding, and you're sexually attracted to women, that is as valid an expression of what it means to be a female as any other variant. This is an anti-collective, purely individualistic position, and is spot on with the liberal assertions of individualism and (gender)-blindness.

The modern leftist position is a complete inversion of this. If you are a girl, and you have short hair, and you like fighting, and skateboarding, and you're sexually attracted to women, are you sure you're not a boy? Your gender presentation is rather male, you must at least be non-binary? Do you see how this is a complete inversion? It goes back to making the assertion that these gender expressions are actually fundamentally to be associated with fixed collectives. I find it to be a much more powerful expression for a man to have long hair, wear dresses and makeup, love whoever they want to love, and say "I'm a man, and this is what being a man means to me." I don't take any issue with that same person asserting that they're a woman, I just think, again, that it could not stand in starker opposition to what is clearly the extension of the liberal movement regarding gender identity.

I'd keep discussing more of your points, and I'd be happy to continue later, but I'm honestly slightly apprehensive by your tone that you might not actually be interested in a conversation. Like I said, though, if you're looking to continue the conversation genuinely, then I'd be happy to.

In summary, I think the illiberal left DO think that universality under the law, free speech, individualism, color-blindness, equality of opportunity shouldn't exist. Your argument is that they do think that they should exist, but believe that they don't exist. My case against this is that, not only do I virtually never see any of these things espoused as values by leftists, but often see them ridiculed. And as I said, these are all descriptions of procedural means, they are not ends. So you literally cannot believe in those things if the procedures you want to see implemented are done so in pursuit of corrective ends. I can't say I believe in free speech, but then restrict the speech that I think that is harmful to the equitable outcomes I want. Controlling speech in pursuit of outcomes is itself the opposite of what free speech is. The desired outcomes are irrelevant. To then say that leftists "don't believe these shouldn't exist," is not correct. They very much don't believe that these procedural systems should exist, because none of the procedures they design or implement remotely resemble any of these systems.


Oh no, poor literary agent caught posting on Gab, a far right white supremacist website, and losing her job. Thoughts and prayers.

More seriously if you think that's a problem IMO the solution is to ask for better employee protection laws so that people can't be fired at will. This is not a free speech problem IMO, it's a worker right issue.

And if it turns out that her contract did mention that she shouldn't publicly engage in something that would damage the company's image or something of the sort, well, that's just the way it works really.


The actual posts I saw were on Parler, and she wasn't posting anything even remotely connected to white supremacy, just normal things you would post on Twitter. She was banned for having an account, as best I can tell. This shouldn't surprise anyone. (And your comment obviously provides further evidence for why this shouldn't surprise anyone.)


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> [Whiteness] is a term being applied to people of colour too when they don't fall in line with the re-education program.

For anyone who doesn’t believe this is a thing, here’s a Washington Post article:

“Opinion: To understand Trump’s support, we must think in terms of multiracial Whiteness”

https://archive.is/d6Ydz


Seriously.

Gab isn't a far right white supremacist website. It's just right wing Twitter. I don't understand where all this hyperbole comes from but it's a perfect example of the low-information individuals we have in society today.


Twitter is right wing Twitter, Gab is decidedly a far right website.

Just take a quick look at the comments on the top stories in the “Gab trends” section:

https://trends.gab.com/item/60163b8f144291532b8bccb0 Bill gates conspiracy theorists

https://trends.gab.com/item/601682466beb1e3de3156fe1 “Pence is a traitor!”

https://trends.gab.com/item/6016992e144291532b8d5986 “Socialists are murderers!”

Are these normal right wing talking points?


The populist right has been systemically purged from Twitter. It's not that Twitter is left wing but they ban right wing thought, leading it to be a slanted echo-chamber. Gab is definitely right wing Twitter.

I've seen equally whacky things trending on the left side, e.g. "Russian Ads on Facebook won Trump the election".


> equally whacky things trending on the left side, e.g. "Russian Ads on Facebook won Trump the election".

Why is that "whacky"? There were Russian ads.[1] They obviously intended to affect the election result (because why bother otherwise). Whether or not they were actually successful in affecting the election is unknowable. But it's not flat-earther-whacky to think they succeeded.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mueller_report#Social_media_ca...


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I don't think you understand what "circumstantial evidence" is.

I'm aware I'm biased, but in this case the facts are in plain sight for Russian ads. A Republican authored that report. You may think yourself unbiased by saying "both sides are the same" but both sides are in fact not the same at all.

The "right" may say the same about "election fraud" but saying is not the same as having a well-sourced report, and federal investigation that netted multiple indictments and convictions.


https://gab.com/groups

3 of the top 10 gab groups are pushing the Qanon conspiracy theory, one is pushing the “StopTheSteal” extremist movement.


> they will cave to mob rule just like the rest

Would they? Microsoft is still serving ICE, despite all the "grilling".


Sounds like a great way to create incentives that undermine githubs mission while simultaneously taking a huge amount of developer resources for a product that will have niche interest at best.

Building app stores is hard. Moderating app stores is hard. Both are significantly different from running GitHub.

While I appreciate the author's intent here, this just doesn't feel like it was deeply thought out.


I'm not convinced by any of the arguments the author points out which would actually address the problem of App Stores.

Essentially they are arguing for Github (Microsoft) to host and have an App Store on their platform and control it because they listen to their users, which is quite frankly a very poor reason.

Cydia and F-Droid packages are already 'App Stores' which you can install apps via pressing 'Add to Cydia' or 'Add to F-Droid' buttons on the publisher's website. You're free to add whatever app and install whatever app you want without Apple / Google stopping you, and its decentralised.

The same has been said for desktop apps (Native or Electron), which have been hosted on the publisher's websites for years, without the need of an App Store. I can imagine an 'App Store' equivalent for Desktop which works like Cydia and F-Droid which allows users to discover and install an app with a simple deep-link into the App Store. Linux has this already, equivalents for Windows and macOS are possible but it should not come from GitHub.

The above approaches are already there and are completely decentralised. Unlike the author who is going for another centralised App Store in the hands of GitHub / Microsoft (again).


I don't know though, Microsoft already runs multiple app stores (Xbox & Windows, Edge). I don't see why they couldn't build it out for another platform or at least figure out some kind of arms-reach integration with Github -> Microsoft Store.

This could be a nice come back into the mobile sphere they lost out on. As a developer, I completely agree that Microsoft earned my trust over the years.


There's pushback on another app store from Microsoft because nobody wants more walled gardens.

The pendulum has shifted, and it's swinging towards PWA.

Per Microsoft, Outlook is now a progressive web app.

App stores are dying - they're just going to take a bit to timeout.


> The pendulum has shifted, and it's swinging towards PWA.

It has for some things, and for others native is king. Native just delivers experiences that PWA can’t (yet).

To take a simple example - let’s consider a ‘timer app’. On iPhone I ask Siri to set me a timer for 5 minutes, it sets the timer and I walk away from my phone. 15 minutes the timer pings on my watch where I can accept it. There are multiple steps in this user story that a PWA currently struggles with, including:

* (Reliable) backgrounding

* Siri integration

* Notifications

* Apple Watch support


These are all artificial problems created by Apple, though. The first three are all doable on Android PWAs, and you can do everything with a TWA in the Play Store.


I don’t disagree, although I think these reasons do mean that it’s far too early to say “App stores are dying” as in the post I was replying to - at least in Apple’s case they are still central, and even seem to be becoming more core with deeper integration into MacOS.

Also, in this context, a TWA isn’t useful as the post is about avoiding an App Store / central control using PWA.


Apple's case, until the users revolt hard enough/some killer webapp on Android doesn't work the same on iOS.


>>The pendulum has shifted, and it's swinging towards PWA

Didn't Firefox recently announce they're discontinuing PWA features?


FF only removed the SSB (site specific browser) feature on desktop which was in an alpha state. There was no announcement that Mozilla was going to remove the entire PWA features (such as service workers).

PWA is a set of modern web standards. "Supporting PWA" can mean many things but "Removing unfinished SSB" doesn't mean "Removing PWA".


Unfortunately, the pendulum is also swinging away from Firefox.


Only for desktop, I think.


GitHub has been expending its services, diverging from its original intent (e.g. remote visual studio code).

I disagree. I think providing that a way to distribute applications through GitHub, with builds certified as coming from the original authors, would be beneficial.


About remote visual studio code, I don't think that's diverging: it's just one more client for their hosting services. Users remain developers.


Agreed, I doubt GitHub will do this but you know what, anyone could start an App Store linked to GitHub (or GitX, or all of them, doesn't matter).

This has been tried in the past - Freshmeat, SourceForge, but that was a different era and also none of them tried to upgrade and modernize. So now there seems to be a niche opening for this in 2021.

Make an App Store platform everyone would love to be on. Get developers on board by giving them first 2 years for free, then a moderate membership fee. Take a reasonable cut from IAP's against providing customer support for the payments/chargebacks/fraud. Just make it awesome, reliable and fair.


Or we could just stop using app stores.

Honestly, I've yet to find an argument for the existence of an app store that holds water. Let people install what they want. Provide reasonable paths to update and upgrade and cut out the middle layer.

The layer of control that Google and Apple exert over people is anti-competitive. But the answer isn't competing app stores. I don't need someone to tell me what I can or can't install on the operating system on my device.


all you need to do is look at the windows ecosystem vs the linux one to realize how important a software hub is. windows is a place where people download random one off pieces of software that may or may not be safe, will likely never be updated, and will sit and rot on your computer until the end of time, and are entirely unvetted whereas linux maintains all of your software for you, keeps it frequently up to date, manages dependencies and does at least SOME level of vetting. there definitely are problems with current implementations of app stores in phones, but the idea in general has been a huge boon for security and maintainability. if you think that android would be better off without google play you are insane. people would be running insecure nonsense that would be doing stuff like stealing their bank information and all sorts of stuff.

if your problem is the fact that apple restricts people's ability to run software that they haven't explicitly allowed, then I agree, that is a problem. that isn't a problem on google as you can install any apk you want.


This argument really doesn't resonate with me. Like, if people want to download trash on their Windows computer, who am I to stop them? You can do that on your Mac and Linux devices too. People don't need to be protected by App Stores.

I'm not only concerned about that, though. The standard 30% cut of revenue flowing through the app if it was downloaded from the app store is also an issue.

In general, App Stores create a 'marketplace' where one doesn't need to exist. That it's the default method of getting software isn't really a benefit because it makes self-distribution harder (or impossible - which is really the anticompetitive issue here).


> Like, if people want to download trash on their Windows computer, who am I to stop them?

I think that attitude was fine pre-internet, but these days we are all sharing a network and there's an analogy that can be drawn with public health policies. App stores are one small part of the strategy to help reduce the number of machines that end up as part of a bot net or other similar uses.


We always give up freedom in the name of security so so easily.

Why is that? Why does fear always win? Your argument is based on fear. Why do we favor fear over rationality?

You would choose a dictatorship over a democracy if it meant that you felt safe. This where that line of thinking leads.

You'd rather be safe than free.


It isn't about fear. The internet is a space we share.

Do you look at drunk driving laws as an irrational concession to fear?

The slope isn't nearly as slippery as you seem to think it is.


Seatbelt laws are not the analogy I would use. It's direct physical bodily harm vs some unknown and unquantifiable risk when installing a 3rd party app.

We got by just fine in the 80s and 90s without App stores. So much innovation came out of that world which established the dominant players who are in control now.

And you don't even get security with App stores. As we already know with all the malware found in Google Play apps.

App stores are simply keeping the big guys big and small guys small with few exceptions here and there.

It's just another walled garden that keeps the little guy out and keeps players like Google and Apple entrenched.


I dunno, do our drink driving laws sometimes get political freedom campaigners or sex workers murdered?


i agree that you should be able to do whatever you want with you device. if you want to download malware or try to manage it all yourself, then you should be able to do that. i think that out of the box, by default, having things managed by a package manager makes sense, especially for normies. this app store monopoly doesn't exist on android. you can very easily install fdroid or any other app store whenever you want. this issue does exist on ios though. if you would want to argue that alternative app stores or package managers should be front and center out of the box, I'd be more than fine with that as well.


> this app store monopoly doesn't exist on android. you can very easily install fdroid or any other app store whenever you want.

This isn't true. Other app stores cannot compete with the Play Store on feature parity due to limitations Google put in Android. For example, F-Droid cannot implement background installation of apps, batch installations, or automatic upgrading without first having root.


I tend to agree. An app store isn’t a prerequisite for the operating system sandboxing apps from each other, managing permissions, and providing a consistent installation and update experience. It’s only a prerquisite for anti-competitive behavior by phone/OS vendors.


> until the end of time

This is exactly the reason app stores should be banished! I want explicit control over my software and I don't want it to update without my explicit consent. There's a trend recently in desktop software to remove features / settings in favor of a simplified mobile-first design, and too often a version from 5 years ago is better than today's.

I want to keep my software forever. Due to hardware improvements, my copy of Photoshop CS4 works even better now than it did 12 years ago when I bought it. You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands if you want me to switch over to an Adobe CC subscription.


I think it's easy enough to imagine implementations that allow the addition of software vendors to the package system that permits regular updates. Many of the Linux package managers (e.g., Apt, Portage) permit this; for example, on Gentoo, I install Steam by adding Valve (/Steam) as a place that the package manager can obtain packages from.

That's not to say Apt/Portage are by any means perfect; the nature of how they are configured is definitely not going to be friendly to your typical Windows user. But I think it is possible to wrap that in a UI that adequately expresses "okay, you're adding the ability to install software from this vendor, and [the package manager] will help keep it patched & up-to-date."

I think we also need to combine that with better security models, so that desktop software isn't necessarily granted access to everything by default.

But UI design trends have spent the last decade "simplifying" UIs down so much that they fail to solve the problem at hand.


As long as sandboxing between apps remains, it doesn't matter if you download random crapware. They may do bad things while you are using the app but the damage is limited to what you type in to the app itself rather than on windows where programs have access to everything.


> windows is a place where people download random one off pieces of software that may or may not be safe, will likely never be updated, and will sit and rot on your computer until the end of time, and are entirely unvetted

We should tell all the people who have been using Windows for two decades about this.

> whereas linux maintains all of your software for you, keeps it frequently up to date, manages dependencies and does at least SOME level of vetting.

First of all, what vetting? Anyone can become a package maintainer. They then do a package update, but nobody is verifying that they did it correctly. Anyone can sneak a backdoor into a new release of a package. And any hacker can backdoor the source code before it gets packaged. This has happened many times.

Also, the distro often does not keep it up to date. Debian has probably been the worst offender here. Its software is often so ridiculously out of date that you have to use some crappy bleeding-edge release to get a recent version of some software. Or users end up piping an http get into a bash shell as root, which is a super idea.

Finally: dep management? Really? The one thing everyone on Linux bitches about and is always creating some new hokey package manager to solve?

> there definitely are problems with current implementations of app stores in phones, but the idea in general has been a huge boon for security and maintainability.

"This week Google removed 17 Android applications from the official Play Store. According to Viral Gandhi, a security researcher from Zscaler, all 17 applications were infected with Joker (aka Bread). Malware on the Play Store is a common phenomenon and it is a collective duty of both Google and users to deal with them." https://www.gizchina.com/2020/11/02/malware-found-in-the-goo...

Google Play Store: The main source of malware (https://www.androidguys.com/promoted-news/google-play-store-...)

Dangerous Android Malware Returns To Beat Google Play Store Protection (https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/07/09/ldangerou...)

Two-thirds of Android malware comes through Google Play (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/android-malware-google-play)

> if you think that android would be better off without google play you are insane. people would be running insecure nonsense that would be doing stuff like stealing their bank information and all sorts of stuff.

Good thing that never happens on Android, as long as people have the Google Play Store.

Newly Found Malware can steal bank details on Android phones (https://www.hackread.com/malware-can-steal-bank-details-andr...) - "Flash player does not come from the protected Google Play Store but rather from bogus websites and messages which trick the users into installing them in their devices. Websites that the malware usually exists on include adobeplayerdownload.com, adobeflashplaayer.com, and flashplayeerupdate.com."


Anyone in favor of an app store like Apple's or Google's would trade freedom in the name of fear and security.

And you're right, it's worse than that. They're not even getting the security they've trade their freedom for.


I couldn't agree with this more. Less App stores not more. Have people not learned their lesson?

You'd think stealing 30% of the profits and booting apps off the store for no good reason would be enough.


Agreed. We can download and install things on our computers. That’s a thing still, right? I am sure we can manage to do that with our phones. Not sure how gatekeeping helps anyone other than Apple/Google at this point. The app stores, just as Amazon, have been compromised. You cannot rely on product/app recommendations. Worse yet the top results are more likely to be fraudulent.


Exactly this, unless I'm forced, I will never use an app store.


The reason why centralized app stores (and autocratic dictatorships) suck is because once you delegate enough power to a single entity, they will ALWAYS have an incentive to start using this power to protect their own interest and not yours.

The arguments like "unlike Google, they actually listen to their users" sound similar to "this guy is a complete tyrant, but look, his interests are aligned with ours, for now". History has shown where this road goes.

I think, the only way to have a fair "app store" is to somehow model the recommendation mechanics of the pre-monopoly era. 50 years ago you would learn about a new product from your friends (i.e. people you trust) or a newspaper you would buy (i.e. the "influencer" you trust). Each person had their own circle of friends and trusted "influencers", and made their decisions based on them. There wasn't any central authority that could apply the same ranking algorithm to what 100 million different people get to see.

This could be modeled fairly well with decentralized mechanisms. Where the weight/rating of an app is different for each user, and it strictly comes from the approval of that app by the people they trust. If you get too much spam this way, just track down the source in your trust network and untrust them.


They're not really app stores, but community-managed free software repositories (e.g. Debian) work astoundingly well next to the shit-show that is every commercial app store I've ever seen.


Branding does matter, but friction would be extremely rough.

Windows is ironically an extremely open system. All users are very used to doing what other platforms would call side loading. And all apps on windows have developed their own methods for receiving updates.

The Microsoft store for windows is pretty sad. Not because the interface sucks, at least not more so than google or apple ones, but because there isn't a real incentive for developers or users to use it.

Searching for a ssh client on the windows store shows ZERO free options, and all of them look worse than PuTTY. They are in the windows store strictly for visibility; which is a good use of an app store. But without the major players who don't need the limited visibility of that store, they users won't think to look there for their needs as well.

If Microsoft rebranded their app store the Github app store, Or made some easy pipeline for github actions to publish to their store; there would be a fair amount of people yelling "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" as well as fearing that microsoft is using the good will of GitHub to get to a similar world of the closed gardens of the others.

Lastly, Microsoft has not done so well in the mobile phone markets. Creating an android store similar to F-Droid would be a hard sell and limited appeal. Google very likely won't let you install the windows app store from the google app store. Apple will never allow a competitor on their platform _at all_ unless legally required.

I don't see how a GitHub app store could succeed.


> but because there isn't a real incentive for developers or users to use it

Not true. It solves app distribution, install, and updates. We used it for an education app a couple of years ago and it was great.

Before that we used Electron with Squirrel and it was horrible for our users. For some reason the app wasn't installed in the start menu and if they deleted the desktop shortcut it was impossible for them to find it again.


Sidebar: It's incredible that Microsoft itself now uses Electron with Squirrel for apps like GitHub Desktop and Microsoft Teams: It violates every notion of how Windows apps are supposed to be installed, wrecks havoc with enterprise application security policies, and is just the sort of aggressively irritating silent updating garbage that makes Microsoft's primary users, businesses, irritated as heck.


Github desktop and microsoft teams are meant to be cross platform, not windows only.

Teams is a competitor of Slack, so going windows only would be stupid.

And among all other options, right now using electron is the most popular for cross platform apps. moreover, it also allows teams to have a single version for web and desktop


Sure, but the way the installer works has a lot in common with how malware works on Windows machines: Most IT protections are going to block it, so making Teams work in the workplace requires poking a lot of security holes.


They could have simply used a different shell for Windows. Heck, they could have simply used Electron without Squirrel and distribute it through the Windows store.


I have plans to put my Windows apps in the Microsoft store, because I have heard it is cheaper than getting a code signing certificate which would be renewed yearly

But I switched to Linux, so I could not use any of the Microsoft tooling. Unless the store deployment can run on WINE?


You should set up a Windows VM. Not only for the store tooling, but also to have a way to test your software on the platform you’re offering it on.


Author here, I am afraid my blog is hosted on a Raspberry PI and it might go down because of HN traffic. If that happens, the mirror of the post is at

https://telegra.ph/GitHub-Should-Start-An-App-Store-01-31

Did not expected this to blow up. Thanks for the critical feedback. You guys are tough crowd :)


Do you Host it at Home with static IP or DynDNS?? and which internet service provider do you use? Edit:Found its BSNL


Hosting with a dynamic IP is not particularly hard. I had a raspberry pi ping my IP back to the dns server minutely and it worked well.


would you mind sharing the script? I earlier used noip.com,and my router's dyndns, I will love doing it other way.


Its different based on what service you use but pretty much all of them just involve dropping a line of curl in to your crontab file to run every minute.


Dynamic DNS at home on BSNL Fibre. You can use ddclient to update DNS


I like what you've done with hugo!


Thanks to Austin at https://austingebauer.com/about/ for creating the devise theme.


or Make it available in github gist


> Unlike Google they actually listen to their users. They were awesome during youtube-dl debacle.

I wouldn't say they were "awesome" during the youtube-dl stuff. They were slow to respond and non-transparent about what was happening behind the scenes.

Also, user's have been calling for GitHub to terminate their contract with ICE for a long time now[0] to no avail.

GitHub is better than most, no doubt, when it comes to "listen[ing] to their users" but they still have a ways to go.

[0](https://github.com/drop-ice/dear-github-2.0)


If there is stance to be made, it should be principled.

Today it's just companies reacting to any specific issue internet mob in social media has. They ban specific people or organizations based on mob activity.


In contrast, I was surprised with how "quickly" it was resolved, compared to my expectation.

MS is beholden to US.gov through contract cash and unspoken agreements - those ties are lessening, but are still pretty deep.


It wasn't an issue with the US government.


If it has to do with copyright in the US, the bureaucrats are always involved.


But... why?

Github has very few attributes that make it suitable as an app store. Sure, you could add payments on top of it, you can make an interface for downloading releases or subscribing. Or anyone else could build an app store and just use Github repos as an upstream if they care about that stuff. The Github API is good, it wouldn't be hard to for any existing app store to add more integration.

And how would this help with anything? Is Microsoft better positioned than Amazon to get apps onto Android devices? Is anyone positioned to get a 3rd-party app store on iOS?

What does this solve that FDroid doesn't already solve, how would it better than what we have, and what does Github's core functionality (hosting source code) have to do with distributing apps? If the goal is just to have reproduceable builds or something, most consumers don't care about that.

I don't understand what's unique about Github that means they would have any advantage in this space. Most of what the author is saying is that they trust Microsoft. But Microsoft has an app store. Why wouldn't they just focus on improving that? If they can't get that store on Linux or iOS, why would Github be different?

I really just don't get what Github could do that would make me as a consumer prefer it over FDroid as a distribution channel. And Windows is already a reasonably open platform already. Certainly on Linux, there's no advantage whatsoever. I feel like there's something I'm missing, I don't understand the gist of what the poster is trying to say. I don't get what the point would be.

The only thing I can think of would be adding better support for payments and buying things from repos. But going down that path is problematic because the whole point of Github is that the releases and code that you list is public. A tightly integrated system that made paywalled build artifacts would be a downside, not an upside. The stuff they're already doing with sponsorships is a much better direction for them to go.


This is a great idea. I can't wait for my favorite apps to get banned by yet another centralized authority!


Exactly.

I'm afraid all the reasons the author lists, just boils down to: 'GitHub (Microsoft) should host all our apps because they listen to their users!'

What could possibly go wrong?


Hmmm the main issue is not an App Store. It is rather how Android is packaged. There is F-Droid type of store out there, it is just that it is not in the play store. As for iOS there really no proper way to install except jailbreaking any way. The bottom we don't need another App Store, rather a FOSS distribution of OS for Android (e.g: https://www.replicant.us/about.php ) that kind like the Debian distro for desktop Linux. As for iOS, is Darwin still open source, maybe a distro for iPhone with an open source Darwin fork?


F-Droid doesn't enroll as device administrator on your phone. I think Microsoft could easily pull that off if they wanted to which would let them push updates and manage applications the way Google does. My workplace already basically runs BYOD devices through some Microsoft Azure management thing.


There is an extra thing you can do to make fdroid admin but it requires root. It does allow auto updates though.


Darwin is only the kernel. iOS is closed-source.


For sure, the same way Linux is only the kernel. If you ask Stallman, he will say GNU/Linux. ;-)


yeah, so? Android's user-space is still mostly open-source. What's open-source of iOS is basically useless for developing an alternative OS for iPhones.


> Backed by Microsoft. Microsoft has been playing good by the developers for years now. I trust them more than Apple and Google.

Maybe we shouldn't trust MS, but ourselves.

A MS controlled App Store is as bad or good as a Google or Apple controlled App store. Good for some peace of mind and trust, that they won't distribute malware ( ... already broken tough), bad for the fact that they control it we would still rely on the benevolence of a dictator.


Yes, this.

Some of us remember Microsoft setting personal computing back ten years by using their market power to foist sub par, frankly rubbish, system software on computer users.

There is no sign they have changed their business practices. It is just now they are the underdog.

Full respect is due to MS for turning their business around, but they are playing catchup now. If they ever get back out in front, watch out!


It is almost like the author forgot that GitHub is owned by Microsoft (despite mentioning it, sigh).

"Tired of big tech censoring apps? Let's have big tech manage an app store, that'll solve it".

or

"Tired of one big tech censoring apps? Let's have another one, the one and only!".

Plus I am sure others have mentioned it by now but GitHub Issues for user feedback is going to suck big time.


This idea would take it to another level, because it would also mean that the "big tech is in control of my source code and release process".


No. Stop it. This is NOT what GitHub is for. Yes, it has become a place for software where users may download packaged "apps" from. But this is only a byproduct of GitHub hosting software. Do not ruin GitHub for me please. I don't wanna sound like a jerk, but I don't wanna have to deal with the same people who leave horrible comment on the App Store and Play Store. I'm sure you have good intentions, but this is a really stupid idea.


I think this is a really really bad idea. No more app stores. As a developer, app stores have always seem totally stupid to me. I remember when computers were actually things that you felt like you owned completely. Now, your computer is owned by people that run app stores. Github still seems like it's a company that understands its role as an intermediary. It hasn't yet tried to take over the world like everyone else and I hope it never does.


YOU felt like you owned your computer because you're a tech nerd, software developer, or similar.

That is not the feeling a "Wild West" environment gives to 99% of people using these devices. It is much closer to Russian Roulette than anything else.

Killing app stores would paradoxically dramatically shrink the market for software and cause massive consolidation on the developer side. The big players with big budgets and marketing clout would survive but it would devestate most others and shrink the overall market by 40-50%. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why by applying the same principles folks on HN use every day to optimize customer acquisitions, increase ARR, etc. When every app asks for your credit card (and they would) you automatically shrink the funnel dramatically. That doesn't even begin to consider all the scams, subscriptions you can't actually cancel, or malware that deliberately subverts sandboxes or plays silent audio to continuously run in the background to kill your battery.

There's a natural incentive if stores compete for developers: reduce commissions. The end result of that is get rid of review or any other quality control standards because those things cost money. The large players won't participate because they'll want to keep everything for themselves. You can forget about anything that improves privacy or makes your life easier as an end user.

For end users the bar to jump through all those hoops and take on the security and financial risks will be much higher. They will buy less software.

It amazes me how quickly some of my fellow nerds will fall into the same myopic traps over and over without consideration for the other 99% who aren't computer experts. And without consideration for what it takes to actually run and be successful in business. Just because it would be more convenient for them personally.


Does Windows use an app store these days? They might have one, but my experience is largely I'm still downloading EXE files from a /download page somewhere. But I only use for my work so not installing much. I still feel like the app store on OSX is meh. I download DMG files 99% of the time from a /download page somewhere. Seems to work fine, what am I missing?

You're making it sound like app stores have fixed something but I'm failing to see what. Maybe on iOS it gives some exposure/discoverability to new apps. But I don't see that as an overwhelming feature for end users. This used to exist outside of app stores as web based directories and that worked better in my opinion.


To a degree: pre-internet security relied very heavily on: physical access, physical software (Floppy Disk or CD and bought at a physical store).

With both of those restrictions eliminated with the internet there's two security venues: bugs in Software with remote access without authentication, and code execution access (currently handled via several security access levels).

The later has proven difficult as it's gone from "1" unlimited via physical access to "distrust the user". App stores being the latest version of trust with perhaps Apple iPhone as one of the highest examples and most restrictive (presently in the name of user privacy vs Facebook).

Github is also "1:many" in terms of supported devices supported. Once an app store exists, the number supported platforms is constrained. The door is opened to competitors to host both a repository and an app store for another platform. Omitting the app store the ecosystem remains neutral to which device runs the end result


Snap and apt are basically app stores, albeit ones where everything is free. They're just repositories of trusted programs that are easy install and easy to keep updated.


Snap is another locked down platform where the Canonical repo is hardcoded in to the tool. Flatpak is a much better platform where you can specify your own repo source like flathub or any other source you want.


GitHub is unable to enter the mobile app distribution market because Apple and Google leverage their monopolies in the mobile OS market to limit competition, or outright ban it, in the mobile app distribution space.

It'll take some serious antitrust action before real competition will be allowed to improve costs and experiences for developers and users alike when it comes to mobile app distribution. In the meantime, Apple and Google will continue to keep a stranglehold on the app distribution market like they have for over a decade now.


there is Amazon Appstore!


I have the Amazon Appstore on my Android phone. Google does not allow Amazon to compete on feature parity with the Play Store. Amazon's Appstore cannot do background installation of apps, batch installation of apps, or automatic upgrades if the device isn't an Amazon device.


> background installation of apps

I wish google would not do that...


If I click to install an app, I want it to install in the background instead of booting me out of the foreground app to show me the installation screen. As a result, any time I want to upgrade or install an app using the Amazon Appstore or F-Droid, I have to click through a dozen install screens that I can't get through all at once or have them install in the background.


Also, the Galaxy store and F-droid


Google has restricted Android such that only the Play Store can implement background installation of apps, batch installations and automatic upgrading of installed apps. F-Droid can implement those if you give it root access, but manufacturers go out of their way to prevent users from rooting their devices.

I need a Samsung phone to use the Galaxy Store.


> They were awesome during youtube-dl debacle.

The debacle IMO was all the folks who thought GH taking down youtube-dl was newsworthy at all in the first place. The infantile dependency is the problem, not the lack of yet another gatekeeper.

> I trust [MS] more than Apple and Google.

Thank you for the LOL. Look, VSCode is nice but don't be so naive.

Anyone can start an "app store", but can they make money at it? If MS thought they could make money running an app store would they hesitate? (Also, they already have an app store.)


> Microsoft has been playing good by the developers for years now.

Let's wait and see history repeating itself. I don't buy that and I will never forget.


I think what's more important is somehow getting Apple to allow alternative app stores in their phones. While Android phones are the most popular in many (most?) countries, iPhones are still very common and make it so solutions in one distribution platform don't extend to all phone users.

Once a competitor is able to operate in both Android and iOS, I think we will see a real threat to official app stores, whether it's Github behind it or someone else.


Like it or not, pretty much the whole reason Apple only has The One True App Store™ is to ensure at least some amount of review of QA is done before unleashing apps on its customers.

Does that get abused? Arguably - yes.

Is it overall a good trade-off? Depends on your use case. Want "full" control of your whole mobile device? Get a Pine phone or rooted Android, etc

What any app you download to be highly-likely to be free of bugs and spyware? Go for an iOS device


I disagree.

Technically, Android doesn't have a One True App Store. But in practice, Google Play is the standard app store and 99% of users use it exclusively, at least in the West. It is in fact the one true app store for Android.

So Google does in fact control the Android app store (the one that counts, anyway). The reason why Google Play has so many shitty apps is because Google simply doesn't care about curation in the same way Apple does. That's true for every Google product, by the way. They strongly favor algorithmic curation, while Apple also relies heavily on human curation.

If Apple allowed alternative app stores, nothing would change as far as the standard iOS app store is concerned. 99,99% of users would keep using the Apple app store unless there was a very compelling reason for using an alternative.


No one should have an 'app store', the entire concept is user hostile. A general purpose computer should be able to execute what I wish it to execute and it's inexcusable that a company would think they know better.


No, they shouldn't. Centralized App Stores isn't the way to go, look at recent examples of (temporarily) removed Apps like Matrix from Play Store. A decentralized App Store (e.g. based on IPFS) would be great.


Why there is no regulation about this? My hardware and I do with that whatever I want...


I'm not sure what my point is here exactly, but: debian has had an "app store" for 20+ years that works brilliantly, can be trusted not to fuck with or spy on you, has never pulled youtube-dl/nmap/etc (as far as I know), (while also being naturally free of forum software for white supremacists (bonus!))


You're being quite selective here, sure the Debian way has it's positives but let's not pretend that model is free of problems -- there's been plenty of software that has been removed or is not allowed in Debian, and once you want a newer version of something that isn't in there then getting what you want can be difficult if you're not an expert, etc.


Debian's software repo is fantastic but has a deliberately high barrier to entry and chooses stability above all else.

Hosting your own apt repo isn't as difficult as it looks (all you need is a static file server) so it's a nice way to host your software if you have a collection of it.


What we need is actually the Matrix protocol for app distribution. That is, a decentralized yet federated platform replacement for App Store. So the longevity and transparency of the platform is ensured by the distributed property.


We need multiple app stores with legislation on providing access and default searches, much in the same way EU will require devices to allow users to select default search etc..

A good amount of competition will help solve a lot of problems, and very strongly highlight the ant-competitive practices inherent in these value chain verticalizations.

I respect Google wants to form a Union to influence who can and cannot be on YouTube, at the same time, I want absolutely nothing to do with some foreign special interest group dictating content to me, so let's have some choice, thanks.


> They already host source code of millions of apps. Release integration should be trivial to implement.

So that it too can become an Apple / Google App Store where it can also control which apps, repositories are allowed or not? Essentially you're moving to another centralised platform, but the reason is because they 'listen to their users'? No thanks and no deal.

Hosting an app repository on your own website is fine and already decentralised. So far, Cydia and F-Droid are doing it right with being a potential alternative App Store.


Maybe somewhat off topic ... I don't sell anything on any App stores currently but I do like the idea of having some way of creating "applications" that are a bit more discoverable. Last I checked GitHub search is pretty awful for discovery (maybe I'm wrong on that?). I could imagine an interface where it would be easier to browse "apps" that do something specific.

Mathworks (MATLAB) has a decent version of this: https://www.mathworks.com/matlabcentral/fileexchange/

People can provide feedback and ratings which makes it easy to see when projects are dead or when there are big issues that aren't being fix. You can also reference other projects - "This project is like that project but it is faster ..."

I don't think PyPi is all that good for this. Also, I've never really invested the effort to learn how to deploy an application to PyPi whereas something that simply points to my repo may be valuable?

Anyway, the main problem I want solved is not having people discover my code (although that would be great too), but being able to find other code more easily so I don't need to constantly reinvent the wheel.


I have a question regarding the moderation needs of stores: why exactly do we need stores for mobile devices, whereas we don't have any store or moderation for installing application on computers, or visiting websites?

Except various edge cases, you can technically visit any website that is served from any server, or you can install any application that has the correct binaries for your platform. What makes mobile devices different in this regard?


A walled garden is a plus for most consumers. Especially non-technical consumers who want to download something and be sure it's not spyware that will brick their phone. If you want to be able to install anything you can buy a pinephone but I can't imagine it would be fun to install anything on a pinephone.

Apple offers a walled garden as an offering to i-device users. Other companies try to mimic Apple's success. Mobile devices simply do not have the same "must be able to install anything" requirements that a standard computer has.


> I can't imagine it would be fun to install anything on a pinephone.

It's actually fun to do "apk add audacity" (yeah, there's also multiple gui frontends...) and have it installed and working as well as on desktop. OK, that one uses a traditional desktop interface, but it is still usable. Plug it into a docking station and use a mouse and keyboard + screen if you prefer.

Okay, that's not really sideloading, especially as each distro has its packaging format. You can use flatpaks for this (and they are sandboxes), some CIs provide builds as flatpaks (KDE does this).

One issue is that Linux executables are still very much architecture-dependent.


If you take off the linux hobbyist blinders you will see that having to type in "apk add audacity" and getting a mobile unusable interface is a non-starter for 99% of people. Compare that to the experience of typing in to a search bar that loads suggestions and gives results with pictures and ratings and descriptions.

I like the pinephone and am going to buy one myself but I'm buying it because of linux reasons, not because I actually think it will be a good daily driver.


Of course I have blinders on. Of course it isn't for 98% of people.

1. I did say it was usable, I am pretty sure most people could use it, although it wouldn't be a great pleasure (an personally I loathe these "addictive" mobile interfaces). One could get real work done with it.

2. I did say there was a gui for this. You don't have to type that if you don't want to. There are multiple gui front-ends with categories, descriptions, screenshots, ratings, etc. Courtesy of appstream metadata and packagekit, that both abstract away platform-specific package manager subtleties and provide "modern" store metadata.

3. This way a contrived example, there are simpler tools if all you want is record & play back.

4. "fun" is very subjective, that was part of my point.

Oh, and while we're on it, most distribution repositories are in fact walled gardens with a curated software selection (the audacity example above is part of it). That doesn't prevent you from sideloading whatever you want.


> If you want to be able to install anything you can buy a pinephone but I can't imagine it would be fun to install anything on a pinephone.

If an application is properly sandboxed, and I can fully control the permissions of that sandbox, then I see no problems with that.


> I have a question regarding the moderation needs of stores

Moderation is orthogonal to stores.

We don't need stores. Some people might need filters. And multiple filters could exist for different audiences (children, grandmas who lack computer knowledge, etc.)


App stores exist on mobile because they're good business for who controls them.

They need moderation because stores comes with policies.


I fully expect Azure Marketplace and Github to integrate.

-- Brand: A rebrand may make sense too, similar to GitHub Actions incorporation of azure automation. But probably less so given the wider non-dev audiences who would consume this stuff: They'll trust MS over GH.

-- B2B: This already covers cloud apps. I see GH as one of the bigger advantages Microsoft has over Amazon + Google as server software moves more and more to a 'shift left' world. AFAICT, this is less of a question of 'if' and more of 'when'. Unfortunately for everyone, MS is historically slow here. A surprise push here may end up being Teams.

Consumer seems a lot harder, but maybe:

- Desktop: MS has a big consumer games division (XBox..). Doing MS Desktop Games via a MS App Desktop Store, similar to Google Play for driving Android marketplace, may work for pushing regular consumer apps as well. They can already do for Windows (if they haven't, I don't follow), and maybe compelling enough for Apple to want to bring to OS X?

- Mobile: This is about Microsoft's ability to win over or open Apple, Google, and the top 10 Android vendor for fairly controlled mobile experience.. which is historically unlikely..


Screw app stores. Mobile is the only place where you have to use a portal to install an app, and it's just a power play.

Let me just install an app by browsing a regular website, not being funneled through somebody's portal. That's how every other computer in history has installed apps. It's not perfect but it certainly has none of the downsides of app stores.


I was thinking why we need an app store at all. It does make sense for security and discoverability. However maybe it makes sense to have multiple app stores. So you my phone I could have a Google one and Microsoft one and maybe a new company that specializes in this.


Not gonna happen. Anyone could start an App Store and use GH’s api’s to file issues with developers repos anyway. Microsoft owns App Center (formerly Hockey App) which allows apps to send diagnostics to devs for crashes and the like. I’d expect similar features for GH in the longer term future. But an App Store - prob not. Apple is particularly difficult to develop on and deploy to their store as it is. You can only deploy to test devices with custom policies (app center makes this easier) or jailbreak your device. There’s no way Apple will ever release their monopoly on their App Store. So you’d be looking at an android only App Store (plus windows for whatever that is worth)


It surprises me that how much dependent we have become on these big corps (here it's a choice between Microsoft and Google in the article). But at the same time, Wikipedia exists and is an awesome thing without being owned by these firms. Brings me to the question which I don't have any answer - Why can't we have a open source app store totally developed and run by community and which recovers it's hosting cost with privacy-friendly ads and certain share of app revenues? It can host itself on a combination of clouds, and whether an app can be removed or kept; would be decided by community voting; not just whim of a bigco.


How about an app mall rather than an app store? Like F-Droid with multiple repositories (the "stores" in this metaphor), but also supporting authentication, paid apps, and store fronts to display recommendations and stuff.


It sounds a good idea, but The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The only way to ensure pure, non controlled by corp distribution of software is and was BitTorrent. Microsoft may be good today, but may not in the future.


Along these lines, it would be really cool to see GitHub begin to approach the source code infrastructure that Google has internally. If they added a good build system (heck, just use bazel) and a feature to build code in the cloud, and a web IDE and better code review system (of course, all with open protocols — it’s git after all), we could have a much more standardized open source environment— the overhead to working on a new open source project would be lower since you wouldn’t have to figure out how to build it. It would also make it significantly easier to add dependencies and integrate software together.


Along these lines, it would be really cool to see GitHub begin to approach the source code infrastructure that Google has internally. If they added a good build system (heck, just use bazel) and a feature to build code in the cloud (of course, all with open protocols — it’s git after all), we could have a much more standardized open source environment— the overhead to working on a new open source project would be lower since you wouldn’t have to figure out how to build it or how to build dependencies. It would also make it significantly easier to add dependencies and integrate software together.


Here's a question:

Why do we even need app stores? Why can't we all get comfortable downloading from the Web on mobile like we are on the desktop?

The only benefit to them I see is discoverability, so instead of building "stores" why don't we build collections of applications from around the Web and display them in an app store-like interface. Developers can submit applications, they will show up in our "store" making them searchable and discoverable by users, and when users hit download it will take them to the developers Website to download and install an apk or whatever.


> They could finally give the desktop the app store it deserves

IMO the the package managers for most linux distros are better than either mobile app store. There is also flathub and the snap store. Macs of course have the apple app store, and homebrew is fairly prevalent as well. Even windows has AppGet and unofficial package managers like chocolatey. Maybe none of these are what the author thinks desktop "deserves", but if so, then what would be? And why would GitHub be any better at it than any of its tried and tested predecessors


Most desktop app stores suck because they have nothing in them because developers stay far away if given the choice. No developer would willingly give away 30% of their profits and face being randomly removed if they can just provide the app directly to users.


I would support github creating a different entity that could act like an app store, but I do not think that github.com is best served by pivoting to anything other than what it does right now.


Why do people keep referring to Github as Github and not Microsoft when discussing business decisions?

Github is not "backed" by Microsoft. Microsoft owns them. Github is Microsoft. This article is asking Microsoft to start an App Store, which they have already done. It's called Windows Phone Store. The article should be asking Microsoft to rebrand Windows Phone Store, not asking Github to make a new app store altogether.

I see the same thing happen with Twitch and Amazon. It feels like people don't understand how much influence and control is exerted on even the most independent subsidiaries, and how that control only increases year-over-year. Especially when it comes to something that generates money.


As far as I've hear Github works significantly independently from MS.

>The core message everybody on today’s call stressed was that GitHub will continue to operate as an independent company.

>n our interview, he also stressed that his focus will be on making “GitHub better at making GitHub” and that he plans to do so by bringing Microsoft’s resources and infrastructure to the code hosting service, while at the same time leaving it to operate independently.

>We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community, which will retain its developer-first ethos operate independently and remain an open platform


Not sure what your point is. There is still a brand called GitHub. It's the same reason people call it YouTube instead of Google.


All fine and good but what we need first is an antitrust case against apple and google just like we had against Microsoft back in the day when internet explorer was pre-installed.

Just now we have a situation where you can't even install an alternative app store in one platform and the other one is crippled.

And don't tell me apple has a small market share or you can use another vendor. Back when Microsoft was being forced to open up it was as extremely easy to install another browser and they still had to go to court.


I thought from reading the headline it was a genius idea, but I think after reflection there are at least two major barriers to this working:

1. There is no GitOS. So the target environment would be so variable and high friction that it's unclear to me how GitHub would manage clean builds and installation.

2. I'd say MOST repos aren't anywhere near ready to run. Making an automated binary/msi/apk/ pathway would almost certainly lead to broken packages for the majority of repos.


In some ways I feel like this is coming in the not-so distant future. You can already auto update releases every commit, get paid via sponsor, and receive “reviews” (issues). It’s inching steadily towards an App Store already. They seem to be adding social media features too, the user profile README being the most notable example recently.

Edit: It’s interesting to notice throughout the comment section all the places where ‘App Store’ has been (presumably) automatically capitalized.


They have "Releases" which can be improved to provide binaries considered as "App Store".

Just download the proper release for your platform and Rock'n'Roll.


This doesn't answer the question, an App Store for what?

iOS / Mac? Appel doesn't even allow anything alike on iOS, and for Mac, Apple could pull out developer certificate for whatever reason.

Android? Will that be bundled by Phone markers? If not how are the 2.5B of Google Android users going to get it?

Windows, what are the benefits?

I am not understand the reason other than I want an App Store that is not coming from Big Tech. And arguably Github is part of Big Tech ( Microsoft ).


I am totally behind that. The Ethos of the platform and the visibility it has are priming it for acceptance and its own market. When Open Source crystallizes around it, this could be the spark to break the duopoly of the mobile platforms (by framing a hypothetical future alternative), AND provide Desktop OS's an Ethos-First platform for releases, where the developers would want to be on their best behavior from the get-go.


I would love a github logo on other app stores; verifying the tag hosted on github was compiled and released to the app store without modification.


GitHub is a US company, or rather part of one (Microsoft). It iss subject to US government diktats, like National Security Letters, NSA spying, US sanctions banning certain countries and people/users, etc. Indeed, GitHub has already acted upon such pressures or commands, as has been covered here on HN if I'm not mistaken.

So GitHub will not be fundamentally better than Google in this respect.


>Unlike Google they actually listen to their users.

Beg to differ. They have far less problems to worry about when hosting the only the source code. Now if they host entire apps they will most likely be required to moderate the content in the apps. Its not a random company. MS will want to maintain their brand image and regulations. This will lead to the same problems sooner or later.


> This is a minor but users will be able to raise issues with developers directly instead writing comments over app pages which I think you would agree completely suck.

Would love to hear OSS App authors thoughts on this. I've seen some complaining about the review system on the App Stores, but I think it could also add a lot of maintenance burden, so wondering what they think.


isnt there already f-droid which is doing a slow but nonetheless a great job?


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