Announcement: One Click Installer

Conrad Knauer atheoi at
Mon Aug 6 19:03:03 UTC 2007

On 8/6/07, Krzysztof Lichota <krzysiek at> wrote:

> I would like to share with you the project I have been working for some
> time now which I think could help solving bug #1.
> The problem:
> - Users coming from Windows (and in general beginners) want installation
> of applications to be as easy as possible. Download, Next, Next, Done
> kind of experience.

Individual DEB files installed with Gdebi provide this sort of thing
currently (e.g. try

> - If you start talking about command line and adding keys, repositories,
> etc. you have lost them. They will not understand and they will not
> _want_ to dig into technical details.

It sounds like this step should be improved then; maybe a GUI tool to
add the most popular repositories? (e.g. I added Kubuntu's
"kde-latest", Medibuntu, Wine, Miro, Opera, VirtualBox and Google)

> - There is plenty of packaging formats used on Linux and average users
> do not want to know the differences between them, they just want to
> install application.

In my experience, almost everything I ever wanted has been available
as a DEB.  Its only rarely that I can only download a TAR of what I
want and rarer still to only find a RPM.  For Ubuntu, I think that
this isn't a problem...  unless a user is still in Windows mindset and
wants to run EXEs ;)  Then there's Wine (though they will likely soon
figure out that DEBs work much better with their system :)

> Package installation applications (Synaptic, Adept) and apt repositories
> do not solve the problem for the following reasons:
> 1. Repositories must be added manually and this exceeds skills of
> average Windows user. Keys must be added also and repositories updated.
> Too many steps, too difficult.

Solve this! :-)

Seriously, this is the problem that needs a good solution.

> 2. Users are not used to going to package management application to
> install application. They want to click link on application web page,
> download, run, Next, Next, etc.


What you are describing, as a general practice rather than as the
occasional procedure for a DEB, is a return to the ugly and slow way
of doing things that I left far behind in Windows.  Please no!
Synaptic (and similar, e.g. gnome-app-install) in Ubuntu work so
nicely with so little fuss.

> 3. Package management applications are too bloated with features and
> contain thousands of applications.

Generally speaking, if a program has good defaults, a user won't mess
with more advanced features...  Synaptic doesn't seem overly complex
to me though.  Maybe I am just very used to it :)  Also, complaining
that there are too many apps in Synaptic is like complaining that
there are too many books in a library! ;)

"Wer die Wahl hat, hat die Qual." As they say...

> Even with categories it is hard to
> find application that the user needs (think "I want a movie player"),
> especially if they do not know name and are presented with 10
> applications which they do not know and all do the same or differ in
> technical details (e.g. uses Xine or uses GStreamer).

Do remember that "average users" will probably NOT install an
alternative media player...  Though for basic software installation I
think a site like gives some good tips.

> Users want to have
> some context - other users comments, grades, etc.

gnome-app-install partially does this (popularity stars).  If they
really want to research a program, users should look on the forums or
do a Google search.  Grading apps can be rather subjective, ne?  Also,
think of how big the comments database for the ~20K Ubuntu packages
would be unless you really moderated it... in which case it would look
rather like the current description I suspect :)  Maybe suggest adding
such features to the website though...

> 4. Application descriptions are in English (I know about DDTP, but AFAIK
> it does not work). Many users do not know English and they want
> information about applications in their language, on native portals with
> applications (like localized Tucows).


I would clearly describe that as a bug, yes, but something like DDTP
should be the solution.

> 5. User must know that he is using APT with DEB packages. As there are
> separate APT repositories for each distribution version and user must
> also know what distribution he is using which version, choose
> appropriate repository, etc.

This is just an extension of point #1...

> 6. If user is using some other distribution than Debian-based he is even
>  more in pain, he has to know what package format to use (DEB, RPM, TGZ,
> Ebuild, ...), what channel (APT, yum, Yast, ZMD, etc.), what distro,
> which version.

Um...  how does this affect Ubuntu?  I note, later on in your e-mail
that you have in mind basically a front-end for just about any package
management system.  That's one way towards getting a unified Linux
package management system, though Mark Shuttleworth comments that "so
many divergent packaging systems in the free software world (and I
include the various *bsd's) is a waste of time and energy"

He goes on to say "I'd like to see us define distribution-neutral
packaging that suits both the source-heads and the distro-heads. Then
there'd be sufficient rationale for the relevant upstreams to include
that packaging framework in their revision control repositories, and
distro patches would become far more exchangeable."

Also, this is important:

Packaging is also one area where we can definitively improve on the
real user experience for most people who treat computers as a job not
a passion. It's a strategic tool in the battle between proprietary and
open approaches. I often think that the proprietary software world's
way of distributing software is one of its biggest weaknesses - an
Achilles Heel that we should be exploiting to the full extent
possible. I'm often asked why Linux can't make it easy to "write
something like Microsoft Installer, or Installshield". That's the
wrong rabbithole, Alice. Linux can make it so when you dream of
databases, PostgreSQL or MySQL are "just there" and "just work".
That's a much nicer experience - we should make the most of it.

> Now compare it to installation on Windows - user goes to Google, types
> "movie player download" or browses some application catalog like Tucows,
> selects one with best reviews, downloads installer (in most cases he has
> to choose between installer for Windows 98/ME and installer for Windows
> 2000/XP), 3 clicks and he is done.

How is this really different from installing a DEB with gdebi?


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