Crowdfunding Campaign to Build an Open Source App Center

Brief: elementary OS is building an app center ecosystem where you can buy open source applications for your Linux distribution.

Crowdfunding to build an open source AppCenter for everyone

AppCenter

elementary OS recently announced that it is crowdfunding a campaign to build an app center from where you can buy open source applications. The applications in the app center will be in Flatpak format.

Though it’s an initiative taken by elementary OS, this new app center will be available for other distributions as well.

The campaign aims to fund a week of in-person development sprint in Denver, Colorado (USA) featuring developers from elementary OS, Endless, Flathub and GNOME.

The crowdfunding campaign has already crossed its goal of raising $10,000. You can still fund it as additional funds will be used for the development of elementary OS.

What features this AppCenter brings

The focus is on providing ‘secure’ applications and hence Flatpak apps are used to provide confined applications. In this format, apps will be restricted from accessing system or personal files and will be isolated from other apps on a technical level by default.

Apps will have access to operating system and personal files only if you explicitly provide your consent for it.

Apart from security, Flatpak also bundles all the dependencies. This way, app developers can utilize the cutting edge technologies even if it is not available on the current Linux distribution.

AppCenter will also have the wallet feature to save your card details. This enables you to quickly pay for apps without entering the card details each time.

Appcenter Wallet

This new open source ‘app center’ will be available for other Linux distributions as well.

Inspired by the success of elementary OS’s own ‘Pay What You Want’ app center model

A couple of years ago, elementary OS launched its own app center. The ‘pay what you want’ approach for the app center was quite a hit. The developers can put a minimum amount for their open source apps and the users can choose to pay an amount equal to or more than the minimum amount.

Appcenter Payment

This helped several indie developers get paid for their open source applications. The app store now has around 160 native applications and elementary OS says that thousands of dollars have been paid to the developers through the app center.

Inspired by the success of this app center experiment in elementary OS, they now want to bring this app center approach to other distributions as well.

If the applications are open source, how can you charge money for it?

Some people still get confused with the idea of FOSS (free and open source). Here, the source code of the software is open and anyone is free to modify it and redistribute it.

It doesn’t mean that open source software has to be free of cost. Some developers rely on donations while some charge a fee for support.

Getting paid for the open source apps may encourage developers to create applications for Linux.

Let’s see if it could work

Open Source App Center

Personally, I am not a huge fan of Flatpak or Snap packaging formats. They do have their benefits but they take relatively more time to start and they are huge in size. If you install several such Snaps or Flatpaks, your disk space may start running out of free space.

There is also a need to be vigilant about the fake and scam developers in this new app ecosystem. Imagine if some scammers starts creating Flatpak package of obscure open source applications and put it on the app center? I hope the developers put some sort of mechanism to weed out such apps.

I do hope that this new AppCenter replicates the success it has seen in elementary OS. We definitely need a better ecosystem for open source apps for desktop Linux.

What are your views on it? Is it the right approach? What suggestions do you have for the improvement of the AppCenter?

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