February 5, 2013

With GetDeb and PlayDeb Back Online Should Kubuntu Have A Service Like This?

With the recently announced resurrection of both GetDeb and PlayDeb services, I couldn't help but wonder if the greater Kubuntu community would benefit from a service like this. For the uninitiated, GetDeb and PlayDeb are Ubuntu repositories that aim to "provide the latest open source and freeware applications for the current Ubuntu Linux release, in an easy to install manner". Additionally, these services provide a great way to browse releases and obtain software in a manner that users of that other operating system are very used to: Installing software with a mouse click. 

This service offers a great way for users to browse and install software they may not be aware of. Furthermore, the versions present in these services are often newer than the ones in the standard repositories. The downside, at least for the GetDeb website, is that the applications are geared towards Ubuntu and *not* Kubuntu. Meaning, you will not find Kubuntu / Qt apps there. Of course, that doesn't stop someone from installing these apps anyway, as they should work just fine in Kubuntu. It's just that we in KDE-land often tend to prefer KDE apps when possible.

"But we already have Muon Software Center"

Yes, Kubuntu ships with Muon. It's a great app! However, it is limited to the software sources that it has access to (and rightfully so). But utilizing the GetDeb and/or PlayDeb services, you install the repositories for the respected services. This gives the added benefit of having the ability to install these applications via Muon Software Center or Muon Discover, in addition to installing directly from Get / Play.Deb websites. This way, however you install the application(s), they will stay current automagically via the Muon Updater as part of the normal system updates.

The Case For A Kubuntu-Flavored GetDeb

Let us examine the options that exist today for a new Kubuntu / NetRunner / Linux Mint KDE user looking to install a program not in the standard repositories today. There are a few options:

  • Search Google
    • Pretty hit-or-miss, often outdated information
  • Search Launchpad
    • New users may be unaware of Launchpad's vast repositories
    • New users may be unaware of how to add / remove / manage repositories
  • KDE-apps.org
    • Usually no Kubuntu version available, forcing a user to compile and often landing in dependency hell
    • Many users are not aware of kde-apps.org
    • Limited user base = limited testing and stability
  • The app's website
    • Same as above: If no official repository exists, the user may be left to compile
Plus, all of the above assumes that the user knows what application they want to install. There is no easy way to browse and read about all of the great software out there not in the standard repos.

Having a GetKDEDeb.org (sample name for discussion's sake) would allow a great way to both expose and distribute both newer upstream versions of software and new applications that are deemed good enough to include but at that time are not available via standard channels.

I have often seen an application on kde-apps.org or qt-apps.org and wanted to try them out, however for whatever reason compiling failed and installation was not successful.  Another potential user unexposed to a developer's beloved project.

As Usual, It Comes Down To Demand And Manpower

Of course, nothing is stopping me or you or anyone else from doing this. It comes down to if there is really a need for such a thing, and of course the big question: What person or team would manage it? Would it gt enough funding and donations to survive?

What do you think? Should something like this exist? Or is it overkill in a world of often understaffed projects already?