Novell ponders "open-source apps store"

Can Apple's iTunes Apps Store point the way to open-source acceptance?

Novell plans to bring the wealth of open-source software to everyday users through an "open-source apps store".

The vast amount of free software available to open-source users has long been one of the major benefits of switching to a Linux distro such as Ubuntu, or openSUSE. The problem has always been in explaining this to customers reared on a Windows diet.

However, with the growing popularity of Linux on netbooks and the public's familiarity with apps stores on smartphones, Novell believes offering an "open-source apps store" could solve this problem for vendors. The fruits of this strategy are set to appear in the openSUSE edition of the Moblin OS.

"I would compare what's happening on netbooks with what's happening to the smartphone," Holger Dyroff, vice president of business development at Novell told PC Pro. "There's a core experience, but then the ability to customise that experience. On the user end, all they'll see is an open-source applications store with one-click downloads of new software. Unlike the other stores though, they won't have to pay for any of those applications, which will be very attractive."

"It's a new way of marketing open source," he admits. "It's also a method of educating people about the benefits of open source."

This effort could be helped enormously by the emergence of Moblin, the Intel-led OS designed to take advantage of Atom processors. Moblin has already been embraced by most of the major open-source vendors, which could finally bring some unity to their assault on the netbook market.

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