If there’s anything important in this competitive world, it’s the ability to tell one’s friends from one’s enemies.
We here in the Linux blogosphere tend to be pretty good at that, but recently a surprising turn of events left us befuddled. Namely: Mozilla’s decision to leave Linux support out of the initial release of its upcoming Web Apps marketplace.
Mozilla has been nothing if not a friend to FOSS over the years — indeed, it’s one of our very own best successes — and Linux users tend to be among its most ardent supporters.
So what’s up with this latest development? Was it just a simple delay? Was it a complete oversight? Or does it foretell a relationship gone sour? That’s what Linux bloggers have been trying to decide.
‘Stop Bitching and Start Coding’
“Unlike with Internet Explorer, if the Linux community feels strongly about this, they could always do their own fork,” advised crazyjj over on Slashdot, for example. “So stop bitching and start coding.”
Then again: “You most likely wouldn’t even need to fork it; it’s not like Mozilla is fundamentally opposed to the idea — they just can’t justify the resources necessary for it at the moment,” offered Anonymous Coward. “If you were to fully implement it with some decent code, I’m pretty sure Mozilla would be more than happy to integrate it.”
And another view: “Forking is what causes forking confusion,” opined cpu6502. “It makes newbies runaway from GNUlinux rather than try it, and even experienced people like me say, ‘I’m tired of 10 different variants of Mozilla browsers, and the desktop changing every release. I’m going back to Win or Mac OS for some multiyear stability.'”
Bloggers down at the Linux blogosphere’s Punchy Penguin Saloon were eager to share views of their own.
‘Makes Me Want to Look to Alternatives’
“This kind of thing is especially frustrating to me,” began Google+ blogger Linux Rants.
Regarding Mozilla staffer Dan Mills’ dismissal of the move as “just not something that affects the 80 percent,” such thought processes are “self-fulfilling,” Linux Rants opined.
“Software companies don’t write Linux software because so few people use it, but more people don’t use it because many software companies don’t write software for it,” he explained. “Mozilla’s laissez-faire attitude towards the Linux community makes me want to look to alternatives to Firefox.”
No More ‘Supergigantic Smartphone’
Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack had a more pragmatic view.
“How much I care will depend on how long it takes them to implement the Linux version and if it turns out to be useful in the first place,” he said.
Slashdot blogger hairyfeet, on the other hand, was more skeptical about Mozilla’s future.
“Looking at the mockups for future releases, it’s all Metro UI mess — their numbers are dropping like flies because it’s obvious the users DO NOT WANT what direction they are pushing.
“So, do they change?” hairyfeet asked. “Nope, they just drop support for one OS and give the others….shudder…a candy-coated horror that looks like it’s made for a cell phone and NOT the desktop!”
Moving forward, “can we all just say NO to making everything a ‘supergigantic smartphone,’ please?” hairyfeet entreated.
Mozilla’s move is “Good News for Linux users,” offered Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site.
“After all, who needs yet another app store with yet more fart apps?” Hudson explained. “Unlike Apple and Microsoft users, Linux users won’t have to go out of their way to avoid this.”
Now, “if only Linux users had some way to find and install software packages tailored to their particular distro … some sort of ‘package manager’ … it would download the packaged application, uncompress it, install it, add an entry with an icon in the menu …
“Oh, wait …,” Hudson continued.
‘Think Niche Marketing!’
“Apple users will definitely want Mozilla Web Apps … after all, if there’s one thing Apple is missing, it’s a better way to get apps,” Hudson said. “Ignore the 25 billion Apple App Store downloads in less than four years, or that Apple has the highest loyalty in the business.
“Think niche marketing!” she advised. “What can possibly be more niche than the three people who will want to run Mozilla Web Apps on their iPads?”
Of course, there are Android users … “Oh wait, unlike when this was initially proposed two years ago, Android now has hundreds of thousands of apps,” Hudson pointed out. “And it looks like Oracle can’t kill Dalvik, so those Android Apps are here to stay. Drat!”
‘Yet Another Stupid App Store Proposal’
On the bright side, “there’s always Windows users,” she suggested. “They clearly need Mozilla’s Web Apps Store, because nobody develops software for Windows devices … in some alternate universe, where Windows goes around wearing a red shirt and is spelled B-L-A-C-K-B-E-R-R-Y-P-L-A-Y-B-O-O-K.”
As for Windows Phone 7 users? “They’re certainly a lonely bunch, and getting lonelier by the minute,” Hudson said. “Unlike Apple or Android, Microsoft has to pay people to develop apps for Windows Phone 7.
“Everyone knows free is better,” she added. “Let’s ask those developers to make Web apps for Mozilla for free! What could possibly go wrong?”
If all this sounds ridiculous, “it’s because the whole concept is ridiculous,” Hudson concluded. “Everywhere you look, there’s YASASP: ‘Yet Another Stupid App Store Proposal.’ We need another App Store as much as a street corner with three Starbucks needs a fourth.”